Camilla Wicks, violin – Los Angeles Philharmonic -Leopold Stokowski, cond. – 1946 Season – Hollywood Bowl – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
With the very sad news earlier this week that the legendary violinist Camilla Wicks had died at the age of 92, I found this broadcast of her Hollywood Bowl debut in 1946, when she was 17. It only seems fitting to run it.
Camilla Dolores Wicks was born in Long Beach, California. Her Norwegian-born father, Ingwald Wicks (Ingvald Kristian Eriksen Varhaugvik), was a distinguished violinist and teacher. Her pianist mother studied with composer Xaver Scharwenka. Wicks made her name as a child prodigy, making her solo debut at age 7 with Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 at the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium. At 8, she performed Bruch’s First Concerto and a year later Paganini’s First Concerto. She went to study with Louis Persinger at the Juilliard School in New York City. In 1942, Persinger accompanied Wicks when she made her solo debut at age 13 with the New York Philharmonic.
In the next decade, she performed regularly with many of the world’s finest conductors (Walter, Reiner, Stokowski, Rodzinski, Ehrling) and orchestras. She went on extensive European tours and was quite popular in Scandinavia. Finnish composer Jean Sibelius greatly admired her interpretation of his concerto, of which she made a recording in 1952 for the Capitol label. She also made a number of recordings for HMV, Mercury and Philips.
Camilla Wicks explored a wide range of repertoire and promoted many lesser-known works, in particular by Scandinavian composers, who in turn wrote many works for her. Norwegian composer and violinist, Bjarne Brustad dedicated a number of solo violin works to her. Wicks was an advocate of contemporary Scandinavian composers: she performed concertos by Fartein Valen and Hilding Rosenberg, and gave the world premiere of those by Harald Saeverud and Klaus Egge. She also enjoyed a close collaboration with Ernest Bloch.
So as a reminder and a tribute, here is her Hollywood Bowl debut from 1946 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Leopold Stokowski in this Armed Forces Radio re-broadcast.