Tossy Spivakovsky - in concert

Tossy Spivakovsky - considered one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century.

Tossy Spivakovsky With Erich Leinsdorf And The L.A. Philharmonic Play Beethoven – 1952 – Past Daily Weekend Gramophone

Tossy Spivakovsky - in concert
Tossy Spivakovsky – considered one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century.

Tossy Spivakovsky with Erich Leinsdorf and the L.A. Philharmonic – Hollywood Bowl – August 26, 1952 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Something historic again this weekend. The Beethoven violin concerto performed in concert by the legendary violinist Tossy Spivakovsky and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, led by guest Conductor Erich Leinsdorf in this Hollywood Bowl Broadcast, August 26, 1952.

Two things – first, there is no date on the discs so I am going on the hunch they may be from the 1949 Hollywood Bowl season, but I don’t have any paperwork in front of me to corroborate that claim. I will leave that up to one of the intrepid readers of this website to perhaps come up with the correct dat. (Editors Note: Thanks to intrepid historian/fact-finder and music maven Andrew Steinberg, we have the correct date! – as always, can’t do it without you!)

Second – the discs were in awful shape and whatever sound I was able to retrieve was done patiently. That’s the biggest problem, certain I have encountered with historic Classical concerts broadcast over the radio. Seems these broadcasts were somewhat on the lowest priority and their treatment over the years certainly cements that. To be honest, I have gotten some records sent to me where concert discs (most via Armed Forces Radio Service) were used as packing material. So you get the impression fate hasn’t been all that kind to these slices of musical history.

That said – any recording by Tossy Spivakovsky in any condition is grounds for celebration, no matter what. Spivakovksy has long since been regarded as one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century – and we all know how crowded that playing field has become over the years.

Tossy Spivakovsky was born in Odessa, which in 1906 was still part of the Russian Empire. Under the increasing threat of pogroms his family moved to Berlin, where he studied with Arrigo Serato privately and later with Willy Hess at the Berliner Hochschule für Musik. A violin prodigy, he gave his first recital at age 10. Together with his elder brother Jacob “Jascha” (1896–1970), a renowned concert pianist, Tossy made his first European concert tour at age 13, performing as soloist with orchestras in a number of countries including Holland, England, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, in 1919, where the brothers played for Danish royalty. At only 18, after being talent spotted by Wilhelm Furtwängler, Spivakovsky became the youngest concertmaster hired by the Berlin Philharmonic. Two years later he left to pursue a solo career in Europe.

Spivakovsky was soloist in the premiere performances of Leon Kirchner’s Sonata Concertante and David Diamond’s Canticle and Perpetual Motion. Accompanied by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, he gave the New York premieres of violin concerti by Frank Martin and Carl Nielsen. He composed his own cadenzas for the Beethoven violin concerto that were published in 1964 by Breitkopf & Härtel, Wiesbaden, No. 6460. He also composed cadenzas for all five Mozart violin concerti that were published in 1967 by Wilhelm Zimmermann, Frankfurt am Main. For more than four decades, represented by Columbia Artists Management, he travelled extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, South America, Israel, and Europe giving solo performances. He also found time to teach violin and chamber music at the Juilliard School in New York City from 1974 to 1989.

So despite the flaws (and there’s a bunch), here is the legendary Tossy Spivakovsky with Erich Leinsdorf an the Los Angeles Philharmonic in concert at The Hollywood Bowl. Enjoy concert.

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