Another historic concert this week. Italian-America violinist and legend Ruggiero Ricci in performance in his native Bay Area with the San Francisco Symphony led by Edo DeWaart. The Concert includes works by Haydn and Eduard Lalo and the San Francisco premier of the Concerto Number 2 for Orchestra by Gunther Schuller. Ricci joins the orchestra a rousing rendition of the Lalo Symphonie Espagnol and the concert opens with Haydn’s Symphony Number 6 (Le Matin).
From Wikipedia’s Ruggiero Ricci Page:
Ricci, born in San Bruno, California, the son of Italian immigrants who first named him Woodrow Wilson Rich. His brother was cellist George Ricci (1923–2010), originally named George Washington Rich . His sister Emma played violin with the New York Metropolitan Opera. His father first taught him to play the violin. At age seven, Ricci studied with Louis Persinger and Elizabeth Lackey. Persinger would become his piano accompanist for many recitals and recordings.
Ricci gave his first public performance in 1928 at the age of 10 in San Francisco where he played works by Wieniawski and Vieuxtemps. He gained a reputation for being a child prodigy. At the age of 11, he gave his first orchestral performance, playing the Mendelssohn concerto, and soon after he had his highly successful debut at Carnegie Hall.
In the 1930s Ricci studied in Berlin with Georg Kulenkampff, where he learned a “German style” of playing in the tradition of Adolf Busch. He also studied with Michel Piastro and Paul Stassevich.
He served in the US Army from 1942 until 1945, where he was an “entertainment specialist”.
In 1947, Ricci was the first violinist to record the complete 24 Caprices, Op. 1, by Paganini, in their original form.[N 1] Ricci’s first recording was on the Shellac recording label (he later made three other recordings of the Caprices). After his time in the military, he uncovered many pieces by 19th-century composers that he would perform solo. He also performed the world premieres of pieces by many contemporary composers, including the violin concertos by Gottfried von Einem, Carlos Veerhoff and Alberto Ginastera.
Aside from performing over 6,000 concerts in 65 countries during his 70-year solo career, Ricci also made over 500 recordings, on every major label. He taught violin at Indiana University, the Juilliard School and the University of Michigan. He also taught at the University Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. Ricci held master classes in the United States and Europe. He wrote Left Hand Technique, a pedagogical volume for violin published by G. Schirmer.
Joining Ricci and leading the SFSO is Edo de Waart. In 1964, at the age of 23, de Waart won the Dimitri Mitropoulos Conducting Competition in New York. As part of his prize, he served for one year as assistant conductor to Leonard Bernstein at the New York Philharmonic. On his return to the Netherlands, he was appointed assistant conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Bernard Haitink.
In 1967, he was appointed conductor of both the Netherlands Wind Ensemble and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and was the latter’s music director from 1973 to 1979.
De Waart made his début at the San Francisco Symphony in 1975. A year later, he became principal guest conductor, and from 1977 to 1985 he was music director. From 1986 to 1995, he was music director of the Minnesota Orchestra.
In 1989, de Waart returned to the Netherlands, where he was appointed music director of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic. He resigned from the post in 2004 and now he is the orchestra’s conductor laureate.
Dive in and crank up the stereo.