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News and commentary about learning, playing and teaching the violin.



 



Learning Violin: Pencil Exercises for Bow-Hand Flexibility

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 03:27:30 GMT

By Laurie Niles: How do you develop strength and flexibility in your bow hand? You can make surprising progress away from your bow, using a pencil and some basic exercises. Being left-handed, I was always a little bit behind the curve with my right-hand technique. Because my right hand was not my dominant hand, it was both weaker and less adept. An early teacher showed me the typical finger exercises to do with the bow, but I didn't start getting good at them until I discovered the pencil. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PU91kDN7KHw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Yes, I'd been holding that pencil forever in the left hand -- for writing purposes, but what if I held it in my right hand -- like a bow? It was much easier to do the finger exercises with a pencil, which lacks the weight and unwieldiness of the bow. I could do the exercises almost anywhere and any time -- while in class, procrastinating over work, talking on the phone, watching videos or television -- you name it. This allowed me to master the motions and develop coordination and even some strength. The habit of doing the exercises frequently with a pencil meant that when I was playing my violin in orchestra, during breaks my hand simply started doing finger scrunches with the real bow. In the video above, I've described a number of bow exercises and concepts you can work on, away from the violin and bow, using a pencil. Something to note: much of the flexibility and strength you are developing in your fingers will ultimately be used passively, even though the exercises themselves are active. I hope this gives you some helpful exercises and food for thought. Please feel free to add your own ideas, exercises and thoughts in the comments section below! You might also like:



Finalists Named in the Zhuhai International Mozart Competition for Young Musicians

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 20:38:41 GMT

By Laurie Niles: Congratulations to the nine violinists and nine pianists named this week in the Zhuhai International Mozart Competition for Young Musicians! Violin finals are taking place this week and will be live-streamed; to find the live-streaming schedule and links, click here. The violin finalists are: Group A: Junior Division (12 and under):
  • Chloe Chua, 10, of Singapore
  • Clara Shen, 12, of Germany
  • Shihan Wang, 12, of China
(image)
Junior Division Finalist Chloe Chua, 10, of Singapore.
Group B: Intermediate Division (Ages 13 through 16)
  • María Dueñas Fernández, 14, of Spain
  • Miyu Kitsuwa, 16, of Japan
  • Chaowen Luo, 16, of China
Group C: Senior Division (Ages 17 through 23)
  • Yiming Liu, 17, of China
  • Yiying Jiang, 19, of China
  • Oleksandr Korniev, 23, of Ukraine
The competition, held in Zhuhai, China, began Sept. 12 with 114 young musicians from 20 countries. They are competing in three different age categories: 12 and under (Group A); ages 13 through 16 (Group B); and ages 17 through 23 (Group C). A separate group of prizes (first, second and third) will be awarded for each separate age category (Here is a list of the prizes. ) Jury members for the violin section include Paul Roczek, Friedemann Eichhorn, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Harald Eggebrecht, Ani Schnarch, Akiko Tatsumi, Weidong Tong and Lina Yu. The competition is co-hosted by Zhuhai International Culture Association and the University Mozarteum Salzburg, Austria.



A Cellist's 'Bachabout' around Australia

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 15:11:42 GMT

By Richard Narroway: A couple of years ago I set off on a quest to perform Bach’s Cello Suites around Australia. Initially my goal was purely artistic — to perform these masterpieces in different venues around the country and perhaps record them in the process. Over time, however, the project grew into something much more meaningful — an endeavor to bring music to the lives of others and make a positive, lasting impact on the communities around me. I ended up traveling around Australia for 30 days, performing Bach’s Suites in all kinds of unconventional venues, leading several masterclasses and workshops along the way, and recorded the complete set at the journey’s culmination. In the lead-up to the tour, I began thinking a lot about the Aboriginal Walkabout and its spiritual philosophy. Although the term can be used rather colloquially nowadays to refer to a kind of aimless wandering, traditionally speaking the Walkabout is actually a rite of passage, a journey into adulthood, during which young Aboriginals venture into the wilderness on a spiritual quest. For months at a time they try to survive alone in the outback, tracing the paths of their ancestors and trying to form a deeper connection with themselves and their surroundings. My tour around Australia was, in essence, a walkabout of my own. I like to think of it as a "Bachabout," a life-changing journey that allowed me to grow closer to this music than ever before. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ThfTjc9B5t8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Who would have thought that Bach’s music could help Parkinson’s sufferers find fluidity and naturalness in their motions? Or that an entire hospital ward would be transformed into a place of calm and beauty at the sound of Bach? I performed the Suites in a different church in most of the major cities around Australia. I even played them on a beach in Darwin; at an outdoor mall in Alice Springs; in an open space in front of Uluru; in a coffee shop in Adelaide; in an old gaol in Melbourne; in a dance class in Sydney. The list goes on. I am immensely grateful for all of these performing opportunities, because they gave me the freedom to experiment with musical ideas on a consistent basis. As a result, when the time came to actually record the Suites, I was completely assured of how I wanted to interpret the music. If one thing has remained with me from my tour, however, it is my work with Dance for Parkinson’s, an organization that offers dance classes for people with Parkinson’s disease. In Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney, I took part in multiple dance workshops, using my music to help Parkinson’s sufferers find joy and peace. To this day, it has remained one of the most gratifying musical experiences of my life. My interpretations took on entirely different shapes in those sessions. I found myself responding to the emotions and movements of the people around me while they responded to the sounds of my cello, finding joy in the sense of release the music gave their minds and bodies. To see these individuals light up with happiness was utterly contagious. Some of them came to class with uncontrollable tremors; others came in with the assistance of a walker; a few were even confined to a wheelchair. But one thing became clear: at the onset of music, these dancers regained confidence. They smiled. They laughed. They found an ease of motion. It was a truly eye-opening experience for me. Eventually I ended up collaborating with the organization to produce a recording of the bourrées from Bach’s Cello Suite no. 3, which was then distributed to more than 100 Dance for Parkinson’s classes around the world! They even have a specific Mark Morris choreography that goes along with it, with all sorts of intricate hand gestures and arm movements. I will forever treasure this feeling of being part of something larger than oneself. That is what life is all about. In today’s modern age, the concert stage has become the quintessential s[...]



The Week in Reviews, Op. 198: Kristóf Baráti; James Ehnes; Anne-Sophie Mutter

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 21:37:29 GMT

By Laurie Niles: In an effort to promote the coverage of live violin performance, Violinist.com each week presents links to reviews of notable concerts and recitals around the world. Kristóf Baráti performed Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.Los Angeles Times: "Baráti isn’t that well-known in North America yet, but he should be. He is a serious-looking fellow, playing with a poker-faced expression and no physical histrionics, preferring to let his bow do all of the talking. He produced a large Romantic tone on his Stradivarius with no forcing, a good steady command of the lyrical line in the slow movement, and just enough rambunctiousness in the famous “Turkish” passages." Kristóf Baráti. Photo by Marco Borggreve. James Ehnes premiered the Hillborg with the Minnesota Orchestra.Minneapolis Stat Tribune: "Canadian violinist James Ehnes was the adroit — really, quite brilliant — soloist."St. Paul Pioneer Press: "...the one-movement work set soloist Ehnes up to be the keeper of contrast, delivering sonic balm to seeming chaos, then — when the rest of the orchestra accepted his calmer tone — erupting into fury with rapid bowing that coursed with anxiety." Anne-Sophie Mutter performed the Tchaikovsky with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.The Buffalo News: "Mutter draws sounds out of the violin you didn't know existed. We are talking dog-whistle high notes that whisper into silence. And rich low notes that made you think of a rich-voiced contralto. Sometimes the notes are delicate as tissue and sometimes they have a rough, gutsy texture." Augustin Hadelich performed the Beethoven with the Utah Symphony.The Salt Lake Tribune: "Hadelich gave a spellbinding performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto." Simone Porter performed the Tchaikovsky with the Rhode Island Philharmonic.Providence Journal: "Porter, who’s just 20, gave us all a lesson in violin playing during the big cadenza in the first movement, with whisper-soft harmonics that were right on the money." Christian Tetzlaff performed the Birtwistle with the London Symphony Orcehstra.The Independent: "To follow (Thomas Adès’s "Asyla") with Harrison Birtwistle’s Violin Concerto, with the German virtuoso Christian Tetzlaff in coruscating form, was to go back in spirit to the 19th century, in that – despite the unforgiving modernity of the idiom – soloist and orchestra (plus extra soloists emerging from the orchestra) converse passionately."Evening Standard: "Harrison Birtwistle’s Violin Concerto is highlighted by the series of intimate dialogues with five orchestral soloists. The 'real' soloist, Christian Tetzlaff, playing non-stop, seemed utterly unfazed by any technical hurdles."The Telegraph: "But offsetting the din were moments of delicate inwardness and even wit, beautifully projected by violinist Christian Tetzlaff, sometimes in dialogue with the gruff beast of the orchestra, sometimes with a solo player. The ending provided the evening’s most delicately poetic moment." Please support music in your community by attending a concert or recital whenever you can! [...]



Antoine Tamestit: the Great Voice of the Viola

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 17:40:12 GMT

By Jacqueline Vanasse: At age of 37, violist Antoine Tamestit is undoubtedly among the greatest musicians performing today. The beauty of the sounds he draws from his instrument is matched only by his humility and generosity in concert and as an educator. Tamestit started by playing the violin. But after hearing the Bach Cello Suites around the age of nine, he expressed the desire to play a lower-pitched instrument. His teacher at the time also played the viola and introduced him to the instrument. "I still had a child's mind," he said, "I had the impression of having two instruments for the price of one. With the viola, I found all I liked in the violin and all I liked in the cello." Tamestit said he was in love with the viola from the very first moment. "The first time might not have sounded that good. Because I was small, I did not play well and I just put viola strings on my violin, which was probably a 3/4-size violin. Yet it was love at first sight, a thunderbolt that has never been extinguished. Today I do not see myself playing another instrument. I feel deeply a violist." Antoine Tamestit. Photo by Julien Mignot. For Tamestit, the low vibrations and harmonics of the viola are mesmerizing. He sensed those vibrations reverberated through his whole body. "I felt it from the moment I put the viola strings on my little violin," he said. "From the first time I played the C string, I had the impression of feeling it all the way down to my feet. Instead of just feeling the instrument vibrate as with the violin, I felt the viola vibrate through my whole body. The sense of playing it was corporeal, even carnal." Tamestit was strongly influenced by his parents. Both were very fond of listening to music. And listening to music meant listening to all music: the Stabat Mater of Pergolesi; the Folks Songs of Luciano Berio; Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos; Mahler’s First Symphony; Ravel's Bolero and even French singers such as Claude Nougaro, Jacques Brel and Barbara. "For me everything was part of a whole, a unit: the music in general," Tamestit said. "At a very young age hearing the music of my father, who was a violinist and composer, resulted in the fact that modern sounds, techniques and effects have never surprised me. To listen to all styles of music on an equal footing made me realize that music really has only one goal: to create emotion. And of course it is possible to express different emotions with different music." The sound – its quality, intensity and beauty – is the most important element for Tamestit, in his work as a musician. The musician must achieve what he has in his mind, heart and imagination. For that to happen, he or she needs to spend time trying to understand how the transmission from the brain to the hand is effected. Inevitably, the musician will be required to go through various experimental steps. "For me, any success, even if we speak of technical success, is ultimately a success of sound. That is to say, I have to attain the ideal sound in order to express the best of a passage. All work in music is directed towards the success of sound and its expression. Even if the passage is quick, even if it is virtuoso, one must understand the sound gesture, the sound effect and the sound space. I try to get closer every time." Another aspect of the viola for which Tamestit is passionate is its similarity to voice. This is the focus of his most recent album, Bel Canto: The Voice of the Viola, a project that began with three works for viola by Henri Vieuxtemps: the Sonata op. 36, the Elegy and the Capriccio. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XuwO8jJtX_A" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> All three works were written in the Bel Canto style. Delving deeper, Tamestit found similar works, by more obscure composers who were nonetheless important in their time. These works were written in the mid-nineteenth century, a time during which a number of musicians def[...]



Semi-Finalists Named in Zhuhai International Mozart Competition for Young Musicians

Sat, 16 Sep 2017 21:41:40 GMT

By Laurie Niles: Congratulations to the 32 violinists and 34 pianists who advanced to the semi-finals last week in the Zhuhai International Mozart Competition for Young Musicians!
(image)
Violinist Ziyu He, a First Prize winner in the 2015 Zhuhai International Mozart Competition, performed in the opening concert on Sept. 5.
The competition, held in Zhuhai, China, began Tuesday with 114 young musicians from 20 countries. They are competing in three different age categories: 12 and under (Group A); ages 13 through 16 (Group B); and ages 17 through 23 (Group C). A separate group of prizes (first, second and third) will be awarded for each separate age category (Here is a list of the prizes. ) Violinists chosen for the semi-finals are: Group A (12 and under):
  • Jiachen Cao, 11, of China
  • Chloe Chua, 10, of Singapore
  • Junxi Li, 11, of China
  • Yaokun Li, 11, of China
  • Adam Michael Liley, 12, of Poland/United Kingdom
  • Clara Shen, 12, of Germany
  • Jingyi Wang, 11, of China
  • Shihan Wang, 12, of China
  • Xiaozhuo Wang, 10, of China
  • Jinan Woo, 10, of South Korea
  • Muyang Wu, 11, of China
  • Jingyun Zhang, 12, of China
Group B (Ages 13 through 16)
  • María Dueñas Fernández, 14, of Spain
  • Xunyue Zhang, 13, of China
  • Antoni Ingielewicz, 16, of Poland
  • Sophia Su, 16, of USA/Macau
  • Miyu Kitsuwa, 16, of Japan
  • Erik Zhen Mayr, 16, of Austria
  • Hongfei Lyu, 16, of China
  • Marley Erickson, 14, of United States
  • Xinyi Zhang, 16, of Belgium
  • Changling Fan, 15, of China
  • Chaowen Luo, 16, of China
Group C (Ages 17 through 23)
  • Mizuki Chiba, 21, of Japan
  • Yiying Jiang, 19, of China
  • Oleksandr Korniev, 23, of Ukraine
  • Zixiang Lin, 18, of China
  • Yiming Liu, 17, of China
  • Tianlong Mai, 22, of China
  • Carla-Inés Marrero Martínez, 22, of Spain
  • Gabriel Ng, 22, of Singapore
  • Wendi Wang, 19, of China
The second round will take place today through Monday, with Finals Tuesday through Sept. 23. Finals will be live-streamed; to find the live-streaming schedule and links, click here. Jury members for the violin section include Paul Roczek, Friedemann Eichhorn, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Harald Eggebrecht, Ani Schnarch, Akiko Tatsumi, Weidong Tong and Lina Yu. The competition is co-hosted by Zhuhai International Culture Association and the University Mozarteum Salzburg, Austria. Click here to listen to the opening concert.



V.com weekend vote: How often do you listen to 10+ minutes of music, with NO distractions?

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 20:42:11 GMT

By Laurie Niles: I think it's pretty safe to say that nearly everyone's first relationship with music is as a listener. My most vivid early memories involve listening for long hours to music. I'm pretty sure it was my grandmother's way of keeping an early-rising toddler from waking everyone in the house. I wandered over to her room, in a remote corner of the house, and she set up me next to her record player, playing LP after LP. I rocked in my little rocking chair and listened, alerting her whenever the needle reached the end of a record. Strangely enough, I think this was some of the most active listening that I ever did. I had few distractions: no television, no computer screen, no smartphone, no pending to-do list. These days it's hard to find time for active listening -- that is, the kind of listening which fully focuses on the music.
(image)
More often, music is one of many elements of multi-tasking. It happens in the background: on Youtube while reading an article in another tab; as the backdrop for eating; in the headphones while exercising; on the speakers when driving. But to truly meditate on music? It can happen in a concert hall. It can happen if you shut off all other distractions. But how often is this the case? I'd argue that this kind of pure listening is very important to musicians -- we can get very busy playing, teaching, and doing all kinds of music-related activities, then find that we have not truly listened for quite some time. For this week's vote, I wanted to explore how often everyone is able to make listening to music into a singular task. How often do you listen to 10 or more minutes of music, without any distractions? Playing it does not count. It can be at a concert or elsewhere; but there should be no extra activities, just listening. And for teachers, listening to your students while you are teaching them, does not count. Please mark the vote, and then describe your best moments of pure listening from the recent past. And if you haven't done this in a while, consider scheduling a music-meditation for yourself, or a trip to the concert hall! src="http://www.violinist.com/poll.cfm?question=339" frameborder="0" height="310" scrolling="auto" width="450"> You might also like:



Guidelines for Marking Music - Yours or Your Student's

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 04:31:18 GMT

By Laurie Niles: Recently I came across a student's music that was so marked up, the printed page was barely discernible, through all colored-pencil circles, arrows, stars, suggestions, etc. I'm not saying that all markings are bad; they are often necessary and helpful. Some pieces do merit quite a lot of marking -- you should see my Bach Sonatas and Partitas. In fact, look at Yehudi Menuhin's! But where are the boundaries between helpful markings and outright property destruction? And who should do the marking, the teacher or student? I've put together some guidelines for marking music that I hope you will find helpful. Please feel free to add to or comment on this list in the comments below! GUIDELINES FOR MARKING MUSIC 1. Keep markings to a minimum Obviously, certain markings need to go into music: changes in bowings, key fingerings, decisions regarding dynamics and other instructions. Sometimes we need a reminder about a mistake-prone passage or note. Sometimes we don't want to forget an especially effective musical suggestion. But beware, when markings begin to overwhelm the page, they lose their effectiveness. A circle around a note means very little if every third note on the page is circled, and fingerings become a crutch if they stand over every note. In the most extreme cases, markings can become almost an alternative language to musical notation. Beyond that, sometimes the page simply gets too sloppy to read. So use restraint. 2. Use standard musical language and markings when possible We have a system of musical notation, so use it! Choose the most efficient way to get the message across, for example: A sharp, a flat, an "f" or a "p" or crescendo mark. There are also devices such as arrows for intonation; an "x" for an extension; etc. Occasionally a musical idea might require actual words to express. The occasional word of suggestion in the music is fine, but for sentence- and paragraph-long ideas, consider preserving them in a separate notebook. 3. Take the time to mark neatly Make your writing neat and legible. For example, take care that arrow downward doesn't look like an up-bow symbol. Put a fingering directly over the note, not in some doubtful in-between area. Make sure something meant for one line doesn't look like it's for the line above or below it. One of my childhood teachers took extreme care about writing in my music; when he would cross out a slur, he would make a neat and very small squiggle over it. The new slur went precisely from the beginning of one note to the end of another, no ambiguity. A different fingering would neatly overshadow the printed one, he could somehow turn an up-bow into a down-bow without needing to blacken the other out or leave a smudge. Not only could I easily decipher these instructions, but I also felt very respected by this treatment of my music, which brings me to my next point: 4. Respect someone's music as personal property It's important to show respect for a student or colleague's sheet music, as their property. Our music is a companion to our very real efforts and struggles; it's the place where we formulate and document our plans, after hard thought, experimentation and oftentimes a lot of consultation. When someone marks it incorrectly, or without our permission, that can feel like a very personal offense. I have a few personal examples to offer: One of my early teachers decided I should have my name written on my music books - perfectly reasonable. But then she rapidly scrawled "LORRIE" on each one of them. She spelled my name wrong, and now it was on all my music! Another time, my mischievous teenage sister wrote "PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!" in blue marker at the top of a page from my Mendelssohn Violin Concerto music, which I was practicing for college auditions. I bring that one up because she absolutely did not understand my reaction: I [...]



For the Record, Op. 28: ARC Ensemble; Kronos Quartet; Mari Samuelsen; Kavakos/Ma/Ax

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 16:00:34 GMT

By Laurie Niles: Welcome to "For the Record," Violinist.com's weekly roundup of new releases of recordings by violinists, violists, cellists and other classical musicians. We hope it helps you keep track of your favorite artists, as well as find some new ones to add to your listening! Chamber Works By Szymon Laks ARC Ensemble Composer Szymon Laks (1901-1983) was a Polish Jew living in Paris when he was rounded up by the Nazis and eventually deported to Auschwitz. As the conductor of the prison orchestra, Laks enjoyed small privileges that likely spared his life. His survival makes for a compelling tale, but ironically it left his reputation diminished and his music largely overlooked. The ARC Ensemble of Canada's Royal Conservatory aims to bring Laks work's back to light with this release, which includes chamber works written over a 40-year span of his life. "As extraordinary as Laks’ story may be, it is the quality and substance of his music that merits our attention," said ARC Ensemble Artistic Director Simon Wynberg. "His work reflects the sensibility of his time, very much in the neo-classical tradition of the early twentieth century. It has the refinement, vibrancy and balance characteristic of the French school. He had both great ideas and great craftsmanship, but unfortunately this style was considered passé following World War II." The CD continues the ARC Ensemble’s Music in Exile series, which uncovers and highlights music lost to political suppression. BELOW: The ARC Ensemble plays the second movement, Lento sostenuto, of the Laks Piano Quintet: width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_1uK5_auyTw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Ladilikan Kronos Quartet Trio da Kali The Kronos Quartet has teamed up with the West African group Trio da Kali, in a cross-fertilization that brings the instruments of a Western string quartet into the setting of traditional Malian griot music. Kronos violinists David Harrington and John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt and cellist Sunny Yang join balafon player Fodé Lassana Diabaté, bass ngoni player Mamadou Kouyaté and singer Hawa 'Kassé Mady' Diabate in this project. BELOW: Members of the Kronos Quartet and Trio da Kali talk about their collaboration. width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rNrGmtMscsE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Brahms: The Piano Trios Leonidas Kavakos, violin Emanuel Ax, piano Yo-Yo Ma, cello Ax, Kavakos and Ma to Perform All Three Brahms Piano Trios "From the very first note we ever played, Emanuel Ax, Yo Yo Ma and I felt a priceless blessing,” Kavakos said. "After playing just the Op. 8 Trio in Tanglewood, the urge to repeat and expand was immediate. Performing all the trios was the next step, from which the idea of this recording was born. It has been an experience full of musical joy. It is my hope that listeners will join us in experiencing all this and more, in what has been an absolutely amazing musical and human journey." Nordic Noir Mari Samuelsen, violin Hakon Samuelsen, cello Trondheim Soloists Violinist Mari Samuelsen launches her solo career with an album of atmospheric music from leading composers from the Nordic crime genre. Her newest release features 30 minutes of new compositions by Frans Bak (The Killing), Uno Helmersson and Johan Söderqvist (The Bridge), as well as original music and arrangements by Arvo Pärt and Ólafur Arnalds. New compositions were written with Mari, as she was involved in the writing process through workshops with the composer. Mari has built a strong reputation for performing new music and reaching new listeners, through performances with Max Richter and The 12 Ensemble. She premiered this album repertoire at London’s Barbican Centre, May 2017. BELOW: Samples from the "Nordic Noir": width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EQiIJ[...]



A Foe of Facts: Fritz Kreisler and His Vivid Imagination

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 12:16:15 GMT

By Paul Stein: Of the two biographies of Fritz Kreisler, the first, Fritz Kreisler by Louis Lochner (1950) has a chapter called "A Glutton for Making Music But a Foe of Practicing." The second, Fritz Kreisler: Love's Sorrow, Love's Joy by Amy Biancolli (1998), has a chapter called "Tall Tale Teller: The Kreisler Apocrypha." His delightful personality comes through in his preference for the amusing anecdote, at the cost of the more boring rendition of the truth. For me, the memory of his tone weaves itself throughout my reflections on his life and personality. He was, and probably still is, the most beloved violinist who ever lived. When Heifetz ruled alongside Kreisler, it was Heifetz’s virtuosity, ego, perfection and cool that people were attracted to. With Kreisler, it was his heart and gentle sincerity. Fritz Kreisler. Pulling the Wool Over Our Eyes Biancolli writes about eight incidents in Kreisler’s life in which the truth may have been exaggerated or completely ignored. However, there is one comment she made on page 26, written as the truth in a matter-of-fact way that may be a perfect example of Kreisler being up to his usual shenanigans. "Thus it was far from unusual that Salomon Kreisler [Fritz’s father], whose path crossed with many of Vienna’s intellectuals, counted among his friends an amateur fiddler named Sigmund Freud, whose bearded presence entered the Kreisler house for many an evening of chamber music." Really? I have not been able to find a record of Freud playing the violin. In fact, it was made very clear to his family and colleagues how much he disliked music. If he was out in public and had to listen to a band in a restaurant or beer garden, he would put his hands over his ears. Even though he treated Gustav Mahler for depression and anxiety, and Bruno Walter for torsion dystonia, and he had a profound respect for literature and sculpture, he could not abide any type of music, except for a few bland operas. His reason made sense, considering his need for a rational understanding of everything: "Some rationalistic, or perhaps analytic, turn of mind in me rebels against being moved by a thing without knowing why I am thus affected and what it is that affects me." (That’s quite a rationale for someone who felt he needed to explain why he didn’t like music. Maybe other joys in his life eluded him because, if he couldn’t tie them to his psychoanalytic theories, what use were they? Sorry Sigmund, I couldn’t resist head-shrinking you a little.) Can Siri Clear This Up? Did Kreisler make up the story of Freud playing chamber music with Salomon Kreisler? Let’s investigate this further by looking at the earlier biography and see what Lochner wrote. There was no mention of Freud playing the violin, but instead he had played chess with Salomon. I googled "Did Freud Play Chess?" Nothing came up, so no conclusions can be drawn. Or the obvious one that Kreisler pulled another fast one. At this point, I would simply congratulate Kreisler on his ability to make up harmless stories that sound good when you read them in a book. Joseph Gingold was reported in Biancolli’s book as saying "that many of the stories in Lochner’s book are pure fancy." Kreisler told some of his friends that Freud played chess, and others that he played the violin. Two different biographies simply report the stories Kreisler handed down to his friends. Future generations may discover that they played bridge or arm- wrestled. Among Kreisler’s fans, discovering a new bon-bon brought great satisfaction. His charming short pieces, very loosely inspired by relatively unknown composers such as Pugnani and Louis Couperin, the grandfather of François Couperin, delighted and surprised everyone. In its own way, discovering a new hoax by the best storyteller classical music has given us i[...]