‘And do you also play the violin?’

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ISBN: 978-0-907689-37-9
Release Date: 1990-06-06
Author: Carl F. Flesch
Series: Music and Society

Foreword by Sir Yehudi Menuhin
Extant: 382
Composition: Demy octavo ~ Profusely illustrated with facsimiles and photographs ~ Index

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…

11 reviews for ‘And do you also play the violin?’

  1. :

    “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 Review

  2. :

    ‘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

  3. :

    ‘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

  4. :

    ‘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.’

    The Strad

  5. :

    ‘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.’

    ISM Journal

  6. :

    ‘Originality, humour and delicious anecdotes […] A particularly well-written book.’

    Entr’Acte, Holland

  7. :

    ‘A wealth of authentic new material.’

    Neue Bibliotheksbücher

  8. :

    ‘Provocative ant thoughtful. A book worth reading.’


  9. :

    ‘A Goldmine of information.’

    Mensa Newsletter, Writers SIG

  10. :

    ‘Unique perspective […] analytical ability.’

    Classical Music

  11. :

    ‘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.’

    The Spectator

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