‘And do you also play the violin?’
Carl F. Flesch
Foreword by Sir Yehudi Menuhin
Music and Society (non-ISSN series)
ISBN: 978-0-907689-36-2 – Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-907689-37-9 – Paperback
Extent: 382 pages
Size: 14.6 x 22.3 x 2.5 cm
Weight: 0.62 kg
Published: June 1990
Composition: Demy octavo ~ Profusely illustrated with facsimiles and photographs ~ Index
Illustrations: 99 b/w
This is a fascinating kaleidoscope of a book. Carl F. Flesch is the son of the famous German violinist Carl Flesch (1873-1944) and grew up in the Berlin of the 1920’s and 30’s. He thus came into almost daily contact with some of the foremost musicians of the day – Furtwängler, Kreisler, Schnabel, Heifetz, Nikisch, Rosé, Szigeti, Thibaud, Huberman – including, of course, his father’s pupils – Rostal, Szeryng, Haendel, Neveu, Hassid, and many others. ‘And do you also play the violin?’ was a question he was frequently asked as he grew up, and it explains his intention in writing this book: he had, in his words, ‘a ringside seat’ to observe these musicians from close quarters and writes about the men and women behind the famous names. He also examines, often with some humour, the relationship between teacher and pupil, the pressure on public performers, life as the child of a famous parent, the effect on German musical life of the Nazi’s accession to power.
He has also delved into his father’s diary and his correspondence, a treasure trove of letters to and from composers and performers – Schnabel, Schreker, Reger, Dohnányi, Joachim, Auer, Enescu, Weingartner, and more – never published before. They reveal unsuspected insights: Schnabel’s ‘credo’ of the neglected composer, and the curious contradictions of his character; Schreker’s anguish at his dismissal by the Nazi’s; Casals holding up a concert until he is paid; Ysaÿe lamenting the fate of his unappreciated compositions; Mengelberg’s histrionic rehearsals…
I am not exaggerating when I say that this book is unlike any other ever written… a treasure trove of correspondence from many of the leading musicians and composers of that golden age of European music… Anyone interested in music and human beings (not necessarily in that order) will be fascinated by this extraordinary, delightful book.
Unique perspective […] analytical ability.
A Goldmine of information.
Mensa Newsletter, Writers SIG
Provocative ant thoughtful. A book worth reading.
A wealth of authentic new material.
Originality, humour and delicious anecdotes […] A particularly well-written book.
Very readable, hard to put down and good to dip into (I had a hard job to wrest it from members of my family whilst trying to review it!). In Sir Yehudi Menuhin's foreword he says that [it] will be 'of interest not only to violinists, musicologists and contemporary historians, but also to what is known as the general public.' Having read it I am certain he is absolutely correct.
[…] Compelling reading […] The section dealing with Willem Mengelberg being particularly illuminating […] Fascinating insight […] behind the facade of such legendary figures as Kreisler, Ysaye, Elman and Hubermann. Anecdotes are liberally added.
[…] A veritable treasure trove. […] Casals, Kreisler, Schnabel, Furtwaengler, all pass through these pages, in some instances with letters filled with passion, acrimony, humour or grief. […] The book is lavishly illustrated with photographs and facsimiles and abounds with stories and anecdotes.
American String Teachers Association Magazine
Brilliant, stimulating […] this informative fascinating book […] individual, unorthodex and unbiased […] A fresh and unprejudiced look at old-established viewpoints sometimes leads to conclusions as surpring as they are sound […]
Neue Zeitschrift fuer Musik
This book is a must have for performers and teachers alike. It addresses issues of technique, stage fright, performance situations, you name it. It teaches teachers how to teach, and performers how to perform.
Amazon Customer Review