“When I take the whole history of the violin into account I feel that the true inwardness of ‘Violin Mastery’ is best expressed by a kind of threefold group of great artists. First, in the order of romantic expression, we have a trinity made up of Corelli, Viotti and Vieuxtemps. Then there is a trinity of mechanical perfection, composed of Locatelli, Tartini and Paganini or, a more modern equivalent, Cesar Thomson, Kubelik and Burmeister. And, finally, what I might call in the order of lyric expression, a quartet comprising Ysaye, Thibaud, Mischa Elman and Sametini of Chicago, the last-named a wonderfully fine artist of the lyric or singing type. Of course there are qualifications to be made. Locatelli was not altogether an exponent of technic. And many other fine artists besides those mentioned share the characteristics of those in the various groups. Yet, speaking in a general way, I believe that these groups of attainment might be said to sum up what ‘Violin Mastery’ really is. And a violin master? He must be a violinist, a thinker, a poet, a human being, he must have known hope, love, passion and despair, he must have run the gamut of the emotions in order to express them all in his playing. He must play his violin as Pan played his flute!”
In conclusion Ysaye sounded a note of warning for the too ambitious young student and player. “If Art is to progress, the technical and mechanical element must not, of course, be neglected. But a boy of eighteen cannot expect to express that to which the serious student of thirty, the man who has actually lived, can give voice. If the violinist’s art is truly a great art, it cannot come to fruition in the artist’s ’teens. His accomplishment then is no more than a promise—a promise which finds its realization in and by life itself. Yet Americans have the brains as well as the spiritual endowment necessary to understand and appreciate beauty in a high degree. They can already point with pride to violinists who emphatically deserve to be called artists, and another quarter-century of artistic striving may well bring them into the front rank of violinistic achievement!”
A METHOD WITHOUT SECRETS
When that celebrated laboratory of budding musical genius, the Petrograd Conservatory, closed its doors indefinitely owing to the disturbed political conditions of Russia, the famous violinist and teacher Professor Leopold Auer decided to pay the visit to the United States which had so repeatedly been urged on him by his friends and pupils. His fame, owing to such heralds as Efrem Zimbalist, Mischa Elman, Kathleen Parlow, Eddy Brown, Francis MacMillan, and more recently Sascha Heifetz, Toscha Seidel, and Max Rosen, had long since preceded him; and the reception accorded him in this country, as a soloist and one of the greatest exponents and teachers of his instrument, has been one justly due to his authority and preeminence.