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October 9, 2009

Blast from the past: violinist Carl Flesch

Thanks to my hand-dandy Music Diary from Boosey & Hawkes (call me old-fashioned, but no cold, electronic, life-organizing device for me), I noticed that Oct. 9 is the 136th birthday of Carl Flesch, the Hungarian-born violinist and teacher who died 65 years ago.

His pedagogical methods are still in use today, but I suspect a lot of violin students know little about him or his playing style. Like many other great musical figures from long ago, Flesch is easily overlooked in an age that is all about the now.

In addition to passing on his wisdom to several pupils who became major violinists, most notably Henryk Szeryng and Ida Haendel, Flesch left valuable recordings of his exceptional artistry. With the help of that wondrous treasury known as YouTube, I've put together a few audio examples of Flesch and his fiddle. Since this is his birthday, I figured he should have some company, so the third clip finds him being joined in a movement of the Bach Double by another legendary violinist, Joseph Szigeti:

Posted by Tim Smith at 8:44 AM | | Comments (2)


Ohhh, I didn't knew it was his birthday, but I'm really happy to listen to some of his playing today. Thanks a lot.

My pleasure. TIM

Thanks for your recent essay on Carl Flesch. You did your usual nice job of introducing a musician or work that should not be forgotten, complete with very helpful YouTube links.

Aw, shucks. TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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