3 of The Most Popular Violinist
The violin is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Known to be an important instrument in a wide variety of musical genres, it is an instrument that takes time to master. Violins are an instrument that has remained universal and very versatile, popular with people of all classes. Many would take violin lessons Singapore to continue honing the art of playing it. It is difficult to qualify or decide which Violinists are the best, as there have been many violin greats across many decades. Here are 3 of the most popular violinists that have made a great impact and inspired many.
Niccolò Paganini (27 October 1782 – 27 May 1840) was a renowned Italian violinist. He was also a violist, guitarist as well as a composer. Paganini played a major role in revolutionizing violin techniques, having a talent in virtuoso. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest violinists of all time.
Paganini was the third of six children, born in Genoa, Italy. His father was in the shipping business but played the mandolin and taught Paganini the violin at an early age. After studying the violin with his father in his early days, he went on to study with a local violinist G. Servetto, followed by one of the best tutors in Genoa, Giacomo Costa. He had his first performance in 1974 in a church and studied with Alessandro Rolla and Gaspare Ghiretti in Parma. As he started touring in 1797 in Lombardy, his reputation grew. His schedule consisted of training that was rigorous, practising up to 15 hours a day at times, of his own compositions which were quite complicated even for himself.
Paganini’s father was known to be very strict and stern on him, not allowing the young Paganini to eat if he did not practice well enough and failed to put enough practice hours. Part of the reason might be that his father was a musician himself, which made him very involved in his son’s life as a musician and performer. When Paganini was 14, he was able to separate himself legally from his father as he had become financially independent and established as a public performer and composer. However, he had a weakness for gambling, womanizing and alcoholism which cost him and put him in lots of debt, even costing him his violin. A French merchant lent him a Guarneri violin to play for a concert and gave it to him after seeing his talent.
After recovering from his debt, he became a court violinist in Lucca for Napoleon’s sister, Princess Elisa Baciocchi. Later on, when he decided that he wanted to go freelance again, he left to tour Europe. He amassed an abundance of wealth from his playing, which moved many, and his popularity caused him to get frequently mobbed in the streets. His reputation was so great that rumours were going around that he (or his mother) made a pact with the devil, as his talent and dexterity were unexplainable for many, giving him nicknames such as “Der Hexensohn”, which meant “The Witch’s Son” or even “Son of the Devil”. When he passed on, the rumours were taken so seriously that his body could not be given a proper burial for 36 years. Even until today, Paganini’s pieces are still well known and played, and his technical innovations were adopted and even improved by later violinists.
Ida Haendel (15 December 1928 – ) is a Polish-born British Violinist. She was born in Chelm, Poland in a family of two Daughters, being the youngest of the two. Her father, Nathan Hendel, was a portrait artist that did not earn much but did his best to provide his daughters with opportunities that he never had. Besides being an artist, he was also an aspiring violinist that wanted to fulfil his wishes to play through his children. He gave Alice, Haendel’s older sister, a violin on her ninth birthday, but she did not enjoy the lessons that she was subjected to and had no special aptitude for the instrument. Ida, who was at the age of three at the time, was at home with her mother one day, took her sister’s violin from its case and began to play it immediately. She displayed an instant affinity for the violin, which allowed her to play a song that her mother was singing in the kitchen perfectly, with no sight-reading abilities at the time.
Her father moved the family to Warsaw, where she studied and won the Warsaw Conservatory Gold Medal at the age of four. Then she studied in Germany and abroad in Paris and London. At the age of seven in 1935, she won the Polish Prize competing in the Wieniawski Competition, gaining seventh place overall. After the outbreak of World War II, Haendel and her family moved to London, where she made her debut in playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto under the baton of Sir Henry Wood at the Royal Albert Hall. At the time, she was only ten, when London’s child labour laws only allowed children above 14 to perform, hence, she was billed as a 14-year-old to perform. Her manager advised her to change her surname from ‘Hendel’ to ‘Haendel’, so as to set herself apart from a composer with the same name.
She began formal studies with Carl Flesch, who recognized her talent, and studied with other prodigies such as Josef Hassid and Ginette Neveu. The way Haendel’s parents pursued her career strengthened her feelings of isolation as a child prodigy, but she was fortunate to know Hassid, who was also experiencing a childhood that she could relate to. Haendel’s father would take her violin away after letting her play for about 5 minutes a day, as he did not want her to become overly obsessed with playing the violin and not engaging in other activities. He wanted her to be well and healthy, so she did not spend day and night practising over the violin. Hassid passed on in his teens of a mental disorder, and Neveu was killed in a plane crash. This left Haendel as one of a kind that would a piece with technical rigour and expressive freedom.
She would spend a lot of time touring and performing in different regions and cities around the world, becoming a British citizen in 1940 and beginning her career as a recording artist and concert performer. Haendel also gave many recitals for British troops during the war. She signed on with Decca in 1940, recording different concertos such as Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn. Over the course of her recording career, she has also been with other record companies such as EMI and Harmonica Mundi.
Her career spans over several decades and has been admired for her interpretations of major concertos, and won the Sibelius Medal in 1982. She was also named Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991. Having a very rich career especially within the early years of her life, Ida Haendel is and will still continue to influence and make an impact on many violinists.
Maxim Vengerov (20 August 1974 – ) is an Israeli violinist, violist and conductor. Born in Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia, Vengerov is regarded as one of the greatest violin players of the 21st century. He was born to a Jewish family that had deep musical roots. His mother was a conductor of a 500 strong choir and a singer, and his father was an oboe player in an orchestra. At the age of four, Vengerov started learning the violin and took a natural inclination to it. He would practice after dinner all the way until he was tired, before going outside to ride his tricycle to wind down till 3 a.m.
His father decided to enrol him for violin lessons with a teacher, Galina Turchaninova. She was very strict, and Vengerov clashed with her, at one point refusing to play a single note for five lessons straight. Turchaninova decided to call his mother to inform her that he was no longer to be her student. Vengerov’s mother broke down and cried, causing him to realise his mistake. At that moment he picked up the violin and played 17 assigned pieces from memory without stopping. When that happened, Turchaninova decided to continue his lessons, as he had been practising, even though he did not play them.
At the age of seven, Vengerov and his family were given permission from the government to move to Moscow so that he could be enrolled in the State’s top school for special musical studies. This was when he started studying with Zakhar Bron, an excellent teacher. Vengerov would practice the violin 7 hours a day. In 1984, he won first place in the International Karol Lipiński and Henryk Wieniawski Young Violin Player Competition held in Lublin, Poland. Thereafter, Vengerov followed Bron to London and Lübeck, Germany. Vengerov had many concert engagements in Russia and with top European orchestras.
Vengerov started his recording career in the 1980s and signed with Teldec Label in 1992. He performed around the world with the most prestigious orchestras, which landed him many accolades and awards, including two Gramophone Awards and a Grammy Award for his violin concertos conducted by his mentor, Mstislav Rostropovich, together with the London Symphony Orchestra. He had many other successful recordings following that, which he also won awards for.
Regarded as one of the world’s most dynamic artists, Maxim Vengerov has sold out many of his concerts over the world and has never stopped looking for new ways to express himself creatively. He has thrilled many with his technical mastery, poetic depth of interpreting pieces and his unwavering passion for what he loves most – music.
These are just some of the violin greats that have made an impact on many violinists as well as the industry. There are many more, and looking back at their beginnings and their rise to fame, we can definitely tell that while they do have an affinity for playing the instrument and love their art, they too also start somewhere, albeit from a really young age. There are many ways to begin learning, and one of them is to look for a good teacher for lessons. There are violin lessons at Bukit Timah, that can help to grow little ones by giving them a start at learning the wonderful instrument. Who knows, they could be another inspiring player at the instrument!
Read another article: Piano Lessons Singapore