Famous Violinists of To-day and Yesterday eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 199 pages of information about Famous Violinists of To-day and Yesterday.
after a few bars I already noticed that my accompanists knew not the music and were quite incapable of playing it.  This disturbed me, and my dismay increased when I observed that the assembled company paid little attention to my playing.  Conversation became general, and ultimately so loud as almost to drown the music.  I rose in the midst of the music, hurried to my violin case without saying a word, and was on the point of putting my instrument away.  This made quite a sensation in the company, and the host approached me questioningly.  I met him with the remark,—­which could be heard everywhere,—­’I have always been accustomed to be listened to with attention.  As it has been otherwise here, I thought the company would prefer that I should stop.’  The host did not know at first how to reply, and retired somewhat discomfited.  As I made preparations for leaving, after having excused myself to the other musicians, the host came up and said, quite amicably:  ’If you could but play something else, something more suitable to the taste and capacity of the company, you would find them an attentive and grateful audience.’  It was clear to me before that I had chosen the wrong music in the first instance for such a company, and I was glad enough now to have an opportunity to change it.  So I took up my violin again and played Rode’s E flat quartet, which the musicians already knew and accompanied well enough.  This time there was perfect silence, and the enthusiasm for my playing increased with each movement.  At the end of the quartet so much flattery was heaped upon me that I trotted out my hobby-horse,—­the G variations of Rode.  With this piece I made quite a sensation, and for the remainder of the evening I was the object of the most flattering attention.”

This little episode shows that Beethoven was not fully appreciated, and it also shows that quartet playing was regarded at that time in an entirely different light from that in which we are accustomed to think of it to-day.  We do not consider the first violinist a soloist and the rest merely his accompaniment, but each member of the quartet is practically of equal importance.

Lambert Joseph Massart, the eminent teacher of Paris, is said to have been an excellent quartet player, and often, with his wife, an admirable pianist, he gave delightful chamber concerts.

Few violinists have been more closely associated with quartet playing than Ferdinand David, in his way one of the most celebrated violinists.  Little is known of his early youth except that he was born at Hamburg in 1810, and was there at the time of the French occupation.  It has been said that he played in a concert at ten years of age and at thirteen became a pupil of Spohr at Cassel.  He made a concert tour with his sister, Madame Dulcken, and in 1827 entered the orchestra of the Koenigstadt Theatre at Berlin.  Here he became acquainted with Mendelssohn, with whom he was from that time on terms of the greatest intimacy.  While in Berlin he was heard by a wealthy musical amateur named Liphart, who lived at Dorpat, and who maintained a private quartet.  He engaged David, who eventually married his daughter, to lead this quartet, and for several years the young violinist remained in Dorpat, though he found opportunity to make some concert tours through the north of Europe.

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Famous Violinists of To-day and Yesterday from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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