“I might call my teaching ideals a combination of those of the Franco-Belgian and German schools. To the former I attribute my preference for the large sweep of the bow-arm, its style and tonal superiority; to the latter, vigor of interpretation and attention to musical detail.
“How do I define ‘Violin Mastery’? The violinist who has succeeded in eliminating all superfluous tension or physical resistance, whose mental control is such that the technic of the left hand and right arm has become coordinate, thus forming a perfect mechanism not working at cross-purposes; who, furthermore, is so well poised that he never oversteps the boundaries of good taste in his interpretations, though vitally alive to the human element; who, finally, has so broad an outlook on life and Art that he is able to reveal the transcendent spirit characterizing the works of the great masters—such a violinist has truly attained mastery!”
THE IDEAL PROGRAM
Jacques Thibaud, whose gifts as an interpreting artist have brought him so many friends and admirers in the United States, is the foremost representative of the modern French school of violin-playing. And as such he has held his own ever since, at the age of twenty, he resigned his rank as concert-master of the Colonne orchestra, to dedicate his talents exclusively to the concert stage. So great an authority as the last edition of the Riemann Musik-Lexicon cannot forbear, even in 1915, to emphasize his “technic, absolutely developed in its every detail, and his fiery and poetic manner of interpretation.”
But Mr. Thibaud does not see any great difference between the ideals of la grande ecole belge, that of Vieuxtemps, De Beriot, Leonard, Massart and Marsick, whose greatest present-day exponent is Eugene Ysaye, and the French. Himself a pupil of Marsick, he inherited the French traditions of Alard through his father, who was Alard’s pupil and handed them on to his son. “The two schools have married and are as one,” declared Mr. Thibaud. “They may differ in the interpretation of music, but to me they seem to have merged so far as their systems of finger technic, bowing and tone production goes.
THE GREATEST DIFFICULTY TO OVERCOME
“You ask me what is most difficult in playing the violin? It is bowing. Bowing makes up approximately eighty per cent. of the sum total of violinistic difficulties. One reason for it is that many teachers with excellent ideas on the subject present it to their pupils in too complicated a manner. The bow must be used in an absolutely natural way, and over elaboration in explaining what should be a simple and natural development often prevents the student from securing a good bowing, the end in view. Sarasate (he was an intimate friend of mine) always used his bow in the most natural way, his control