“Violin mastery? To me it represents the sum total of accomplishment on the part of those who live in the history of the Art. All those who may have died long since, yet the memory of whose work and whose creations still lives, are the true masters of the violin, and its mastery is the record of their accomplishment. As a child I remember the well-known composers of the day were Marschner, Hiller, Nicolai and others—yet most of what they have written has been forgotten. On the other hand there are Tartini, Nardini, Paganini, Kreutzer, Dont and Rode—they still live; and so do Ernst, Sarasate, Vieuxtemps and Wieniawski. Joachim (incidentally the only great German violinist of whom I know—and he was a Hungarian!), though he had but few great pupils, and composed but little, will always be remembered because he, together with David, gave violin virtuosity a nobler trend, and introduced a higher ideal in the music played for violin. It is men such as these who always will remain violin ‘masters,’ just as ‘violin mastery’ is defined by what they have done.”
THE BACH VIOLIN SONATAS AND OTHER COMPOSITIONS
Replying to a question as to the value of the Bach violin sonatas, Professor Auer said: “My pupils always have to play Bach. I have published my own revision of them with a New York house. The most impressive thing about these Bach solo sonatas is they do not need an accompaniment: one feels it would be superfluous. Bach composed so rapidly, he wrote with such ease, that it would have been no trouble for him to supply one had he felt it necessary. But he did not, and he was right. And they still must be played as he has written them. We have the ‘modern’ orchestra, the ‘modern’ piano, but, thank heaven, no ‘modern’ violin! Such indications as I have made in my edition with regard to bowing, fingering, nuances of expression, are more or less in accord with the spirit of the times; but not a single note that Bach has written has been changed. The sonatas are technically among the most difficult things written for the violin, excepting Ernst and Paganini. Not that they are hard in a modern way: Bach knew nothing of harmonics, pizzicati, scales in octaves and tenths. But his counterpoint, his fugues—to play them well when the principal theme is sometimes in the outer voices, sometimes in the inner voices, or moving from one to the other—is supremely difficult! In the last sonatas there is a larger number of small movements—– but this does not make them any easier to play.