Yehudi Menuhin

Yehudi Menuhin - Benefit concert for the Palestine Conservatory in Jerusalem - 1940.

Yehudi Menuhin With Georg Schnéevoigt And The New Friends Of Music Orchestra – Benefit Concert – 1940 – Past Daily Weekend Gramophone

Yehudi Menuhin
Yehudi Menuhin – Benefit concert for the Palestine Conservatory in Jerusalem – 1940.

Yehudi Menuhin, violin – New Friends Of Music Orchestra – Georg Schnéevoigt, conductor – December 2, 1940 – NBC Blue Network – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

An historic concert this weekend. A performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto as part of the fundraising benefit for the building of the Palestine Music Conservatory in Jerusalem, offering safe haven for musicians escaping Germany and the rest of war torn Europe.

Organized by Emil Hauser of The Budapest String Quartet, all proceeds from the concert as well as fees for both Menuhin and Schnéevoigt went to the conservatory fund.

Yehudi Menuhin doesn’t need an explanation – he is a household name and one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century. Georg Schnéevoigt, on the other hand might need a little background, as he is a very important figure in Finnish music of the late 19th early 20th century.

Georg Schnéevoigt (8 November 1872 – 28 November 1947) was a Finnish conductor and cellist, born in Vyborg, Grand Duchy of Finland, which is now in Russia. Schnéevoigt began his career as a cellist performing throughout Europe in the 1890s. He was principal cellist of the Helsinki Philharmonic from 1896 to 1902. After this, he conducted many orchestras including the Kaim Orchestra (now the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra), Riga Philharmonic Orchestra which he founded, Oslo Philharmonic (1919–1921), the Stockholm Concert Society (later the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra), the Sydney Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. From 1930 until his death in 1947, Schnéevoigt was chief conductor of the Malmö Symphony Orchestra.

In Europe young Schnéevoigt was considered skilled, but by an accounting of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Schnéevoigt’s conducting style was characterised as “flaccid”, “paunchy”, “phlegmatic”, and “plodding”, with “little or no sense of direction so far as discipline was concerned”. This notwithstanding, his passion for the music of Sibelius was such that he cried when conducting his works.

The accounting by Los Angeles Philharmonic was not in accordance with the contemporary critique of Schnéevoigt’s conducting. The critiques published in the papers of Los Angeles during 1927–1929 were mainly positive and especially Schnéevoigt’s Mahler interpretations were applauded. A reason for Schnéevoigt’s apparent loss of reputation, may be that he was succeeded by two legendary conductors (Artur Rodziński and Otto Klemperer) and so his achievements were forgotten.

A historic concert which I don’t think has seen the light of reissue anywhere, probably because there is a horrible glitch in the broadcast (coming from he network) about five minutes in. The sound drops to barely audible for around 20 seconds before resuming. It’s pretty ugly, but it shouldn’t mar what is a memorable performance.

But with that caveat in mind . . .enjoy.

Georg Schnéevoigt
Georg Schnéevoigt – His interpretations of Sibelius are considered definitive.

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