May 4, 2010

Crass Ambition?!

Hello, all - it's been a little while, yes, but it's also been quite the busy month, with many concerts and other things. As it is May and I'm currently living in a college town, I'm feeling both the energies of slowing down as well as that that says keep moving forward. Of course, that can be confusing in itself...the good news is that my interview with Robin Fay Massie-Jean seems to be circulating (it appeared on the Delaware Symphony Orchestra's Facebook page?!)...

...but today I write because I have, in recent months, found myself deeply disturbed by the reports of some behavior being exhibited toward one of my colleagues. Needless to say, the names of both my colleague (who happens to be a dear friend) and the offending party as well as the orchestra in which they both perform will not be used here; however, what has been happening now for two years can only and sadly be classified as good old-fashioned backstabbing of the worst kind.

Of course, I understand the need to be the best that one can be - but I also understand and am truly grateful to have had teachers that frowned - at best - at the callousness and destructive behavior that we as violinists sometimes inflict upon each other, behavior that is totally rooted in deep but denied insecurity.

In her book Love's Sorrow, Love's Joy, author Amy Biancolli chronicles the deep friendship that existed between Eugene Ysaye and Fritz Kreisler. The great Belgian - along with other "luminaries" including none other than Carl Flesch - sensed the significance of Kreisler's debut, later dubbing the young Kreisler the Weiniawski of the time and stating with great assurance that the young Austrian had a brilliant future before him. As Kreisler made his mark during the early twentieth century, he received invitations from Jacques Thibaud to participate in informal chamber music gatherings taking place at Thibaud's home. With the other guests including Georges Enesco, Pablo Casals, Alfred Cortot Harold Bauer, Eugene Ysaye and Raoul Pugno, it was clear at that time that Kreisler had reached a place among the ranks of the world's top string players.

While we all know that Kreisler is the dedicatee of Ysaye's Sonata in E Minor, Op. 27, No. 4 and Ysaye the dedicatee of both Kreisler's Recitativo and Scherzo and Caprice Viennoise, it is vitally important for us to know that these men forged a friendship while Ysaye was at the highest point of his career - one that continued well past Kreisler's rise to the top. Such was their friendship, recalled Joseph Gingold, that after a series of concerts in Brussels that Kreisler "immediately went to see the master, and they embraced, and Ysaye said 'Where is the gendarme?' And Kreisler said, 'She's downstairs. She'll be up in a moment.' "

Biancolli writes that Ysaye's refernce to Kreisler's wife "as 'the gendarme' (or "constable") reveals no small familiarity with Kreisler's personal life and illustrates as well the relaxed nature of their friendship....Two such Old World gentlemen could enjoy each other without allowing anything so crass as ambition (or a cranky wife) to stand in the way."

So, my question is THIS: if THESE guys, two men that we now revere, could be so relaxed with each other, WHY do some of us who have not reached those levels treat others with such gross disrespect?

Of course, this makes me miss Zhang...

More from the road,

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