“Yes, I believe in transcriptions for the violin—with certain provisos,” said Mr. Elman, in reply to another question. “First of all the music to be transcribed must lend itself naturally to the instrument. Almost any really good melodic line, especially a cantilena, will sound with a fitting harmonic development. Violinists of former days like Spohr, Rode and Paganini were more intent on composing music out of the violin! The modern idea lays stress first of all on the idea in music. In transcribing I try to forget I am a violinist, in order to form a perfect picture of the musical idea—its violinistic development must be a natural, subconscious working-out. If you will look at some of my recent transcripts—the Albaniz Tango, the negro melody Deep River and Amani’s fine Orientale—you will see what I mean. They are conceived as pictures—I have not tried to analyze too much—and while so conceiving them their free harmonic background shapes itself for me without strain or effort.
A REMINISCENCE OF COLONNE
“Conductors with whom I have played? There are many: Hans Richter, who was a master of the baton; Nikisch, one of the greatest in conducting the orchestral accompaniment to a violin solo number; Colonne of Paris, and many others. I had an amusing experience with Colonne once. He brought his orchestra to Russia while I was with Auer, and was giving a concert at Pavlovsk, a summer resort near Petrograd. Colonne had a perfect horror of ‘infant prodigies,’ and Auer had arranged for me to play with his orchestra without telling him my age—I was eleven at the time. When Colonne saw me, violin in hand, ready to step on the stage, he drew himself up and said with emphasis: ’I play with a prodigy! Never!’ Nothing could move him, and I had to play to a piano accompaniment. After he had heard me play, though, he came over to me and said: ’The best apology I can make for what I said is to ask you to do me the honor of playing with the Orchestre Colonne in Paris.’ He was as good as his word. Four months later I went to Paris and played the Mendelssohn concerto for him with great success.”
TECHNIC AND MUSICIANSHIP