The top 6 of the best violinists in history.

As we can imagine, the list of great violinists throughout history is very wide.

In this post I would like to talk about those who, for me, marked a before and after in the history of the violin, focusing on its technique, style and personality.

Nicolo Paganini, Pablo de Sarasate, Jascha Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin, Eugène Ysaÿe and Itzhak Perlman.

All of them have great prestige in the world of the violin and they are clear referents and influencers in terms of the violin school and what today, as interpreters, we are

Moving on, we will follow a chronological order and we will talk a little about each one. I will make other posts focusing more on the life of each one individually.

1.NICOLO PAGANINI (1782-1840)

Italian composer and violinist. He is considered one of the archetypes of violin virtuosity and the highest representative of the instrumental movement of European Romanticism.

Paganini was a famous media character. Although his life was full of triumphs, it was also full of excesses.

Once, he was forced to pawn his violin and had to ask a French merchant to lend him one to fulfill a commitment. This violin was the famous II Cannone made in 1743. The instrument became Paganini’s most precious treasure.

No other violinist in the world has had so much influence and power on how to play the instrument. Many compositions, legendary performances and even innovations in technique.

There are some feature films inspired in the violinist:

Kinski Paganini by Klaus Kinski and The devil violinist by Bernard Rose. In the latter, the violinist David Garret plays the role of Paganini.

His outstanding works are the 24 violin sonatas among others, of overwhelming technical difficulty.

2. PABLO DE SARASATE. ( 1844-1908)

Sarasate was a Spanish violinist and composer. Within his works he sought at all times to exhibit and challenge the technical abilities of the violinist.

All his works had features and characteristics of Spanish folklore. Some of it was even danceable and are true masterpieces of romanticism. It makes you to pay attention from the first moment that you start listen to it.

Remark that, he have generated great influence and caused the admiration of many violinists and composers. Camile Saint-saens dedicated to him Introduction and Rondo Caprichoso, Eduardo Lalo, The Spanish Symphony and Max Bruch dedicated to him his violin concerto number 2 in D minor, which, the same Pablo de Sarasate premiered in London in November 1878 leading by the same Bruch.

Throughout his artistic career, Pablo de Sarasate receives a multitude of recognitions, prizes and awards and accumulates the greatest distinctions conceived by high-level institutions throughout the world.

As he himself would say: “A genius! I have practiced fourteen hours a day for thirty-seven years and now they call me a genius” Pablo de Sarasate.

3. JASCHA HEIFETZ .(1901-1987)

Heifetz was born into a family of Jewish origin in Lithuania. He was a prodigious violinist who was criticized for his lack of expressiveness, but in each of his performances we can appreciated the constant search of perfection.

His interpretive technique was outstanding, in sight it was, in the most difficult passages not even one note was fail, all clear and well expressed.

Notably, Jascha Heifetz has been recognized and admired by celebrities from the world of the violin such as:

David Oistrakh, Yehudi Menuhin, Leonid Kogan, Isaac Stern, Itzhack Perlman among others …

When the great Fritz Kreisler first heard Heifetz he said: “We could take our violins and break them on our knees”

Today, he is one of the benchmarks of any modern violinist for his style and technique.

4.YEHUDI MENUHIN. (1916-1999)

Pedagogue and violinist of Russian origin. Few violinists can claim to be responsible for launching a new generation of violinists, but Menuhin can.

Firstly, he was an innovative and passionate educator, as well as a dedicated violinist.

Secondly, he was known for its quality performances and full of passion, intensity and incomparable depth. He gave concerts until a very old age and continued as a conductor.

His pedagogical work includes the creation of a school and a foundation through which prestigious musicians have passed.

He devised a pedagogical program called the MUS-Er Project, with the purpose of education through the arts.

Menuhin played a large number of high quality instruments throughout his career. The list of his violins reveals a clear preference for the violins manufactured by Guarneri del Gesu.

For ending, from 1950 to 1986, he owned the legendary violin “Le Soil” by Antonio Stradivari, which he yielded to Itzhak Perlman as he was considered him as a violinist with potential, and he did not fail.

5. EUGÈNE YSAŸE (1858-1931)

Belgian origin, Ysaÿe is not very well known outside the musical field but he was undoubtedly one of the greats.

He was an incomparable violinist and recognized as “The King of the Violin”. As a composer, he has written some of the most surprising and innovative works, highlighting his 6 Sonatas for solo violin. It has a high technical and musical difficulty but also it´s very expressive. Without a doubt, it is a true artworks.

In 1995, Ysaÿe was named by the Jules Destreé institute as one of the Hundred Walloons of the Century.

Ending, among its instruments, it is worth mentioning “the Hercules” by Antonio Stradivari, A Guadagnini and a Guarneri del Gesu, which later belonged to Isaac Stern.

6. ITZHAK PERLMAN. (1945)

Israeli origin, he is considered one of the best violinists from the second half of the 20th century to the present day.

We can find the best of the virtues of all of them come together in a unique person:

On one hand, the herculean and emphatic Russian school created by Leopold Auer, Yehudi Menuhin.

And on the other hand, the elegant and subtle Franco-Belgian school of Eugéne Ysaÿe and Lucien Capet. He drank a perfect synthesis of both through Ivan Galamian, his main teacher.

Besides, the early association with other great talents of his generation, among them, Pinchas Zukerman (another great violinist), not only brought him technique, which he already had plenty of, but musicality in abundance, inspiration and open-mindedness.

As a result, Perlman is able to master any repertoire perfectly. His entire career he has collected a total of 77 albums plus a book, 15 Grammy Awards and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000 and a Kennedy Center Honor in 2003.

He was the solo violinist in the movie Schindler’s List, music composer by John Williams, which earned him an Oscar for best music.He combines his great solo career with pedagogy. He founded the Perlman Music Program, summer courses for chamber students.

Without a doubt, one of the greats! Itzhak Perlman, Jewish, wise, cool and good-humored.

He plays the violin “Le Soil”, Stradivari inherited by Menuhin.

Webgraphy:

The Strad, “ Nicolo Paganini” (2020)https://www.thestrad.com/niccolò-paganini/4105.article

Irish Time, “ Jascha Heifetz” (2020)https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/music/jascha-heifetz-s-new-york-debut-turned-up-the-heat-on-violinists-1.3797856

Classical mpr, “Daniel hope remembers Yehudi Menuhin” (2020)https://www.classicalmpr.org/story/2016/04/22/daniel-hope-remembers-yehudi-menuhin

Billboard, “ Itzhak Perlman” (2020)https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/8030250/itzhak-perlman-interview-documentary-anti-semitism-trump-obama

The Strad, “ Eugène Ysaÿe” (2020)https://www.thestrad.com/artists/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-eugene-ysaye/8181.article

Biografias y vidas, “ Pablo de Sarasate” (2020) https://www.biografiasyvidas.com/biografia/s/sarasate.htm

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