Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mozart and his Violin?? Absolutely!

A few days ago,  an excellent article, centering on a violin owned by a composer named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  appeared in the local newspaper, and I am so happy that it was written, as the world knows, generally, about Mozart as both a legendary composer and a brilliant, if not great pianist.  May I point out that  Mozart, as a child, received a concentrated form of violin performance techniques from his father Leopold, who was, of course, well  known as  a violin pedagogue.
In actuality, the young Mozart quickly attained fantastic results as a violin player, and more than one learned observer has stated that this meteoric genius might well have become a renown violinist.
 We know that he actually performed a number of his violin works in public, and it wasn't until the ripe old age of about 21 that the reality of his impressive keyboard abilities became the permanent fixture of choice in performance.
I am reminded about a handful of other musicians who were impressive and recognized for their abilities on instruments other than the one they were known for; for instance, the great violinist Jascha Heifetz was an extraordinary pianist. I have films of his playing the piano, and  these images still overpower me to this day.
Serge  Koussevitzky, the founder of Tanglewood and beloved conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. was, arguably, the greatest string bass performer of his time. The same applies to Zubin Mehta, the distinguished conductor, who is a world-class bass player.
And in the pop field, I think of Mel Torme, the wonderful singer known as the "velvet fog" because of the  unique quality of beauty and control he possessed in his singing.  Torme also played drums, and  he achieved such a high level of performance, he recorded as a drummer with the likes of the Dorsey band, along with such pop giants as Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson.
And what about Stephane Grappelli, the greatest jazz violinist of his time, and the celebrated recordings he made with George Shearing? I have one or two films of Grappelli playing the piano at a phenomenal level, much in the style of "Fats" Waller, who was a great influence on Art Tatum.
There are only a few of these incredible performers, but their legacy seems larger than their total.

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