Death of a Galamian disciple

Death of a Galamian disciple


norman lebrecht

April 02, 2014

The Danish violinist Anker Buch, who studied at Juilliard with Ivan Galamian alongside Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman, has died aged 74.

Aside from a busy career with many performances and recordings, he bought and developed the Kalgruber tourist attraction and founded a prize for young talents.

anker buch


  • Odin Rathnam says:

    Anker Buch was my beloved uncle. He was the force that brought Galamian’s teachings to Scandinavians, mentoring hundreds of young artists at his annual summer program on the island of Mors. In addition to myself, Nikolaj Znaider, Royal Danish Concertmaster Lars Bjornkjaer, and Nielsen prizewinner Niklas Walentin, Anker nurtured countless future orchestral players, chamber musicians and educators, over the 23 year span of his summer courses. He played over 7000 concerts all over the world, after his critically acclaimed 1964 Town Hall debut. He was a comedian and entertainer as well, often referred to as the Victor Borge of violinists, making appearances on the Today Show, Merv Griffin Show, and the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, even during his studies with Mr. Galamian. In 2010, former students from all over the world honored Mr. Buch’s 70th birthday with a concert at the Odd Fellow Palace, in Copenhagen. He is survived by a step son , daughter, and a grandchild.

  • Odin Rathnam says:

    Correction- I believe there are three grand children.

  • Steven Honigberg says:

    I’m sorry for your loss Odin. Perhaps you can find a clip on youtube to put here so that readers can see a bit of your uncle’s legacy.

  • Friedhofer says:

    Sadly there is nothing at the moment on youtube featuring Anker Buch’s second to none right hand bow technique.

    Michael Rabin and Itzhak Perman, where on the same level as Anker Buch in that field and he will be missed as one of the few with that Unique technique.

  • Anker Buch was one very special kind of person.

    He was witty, sharp and a very caring to his many students, friends, fans and firstly his family members to whom I send my condolences.

    Here in Denmark – especially in Copenhagen he was never really forgiven for having once “slammed” the door at the Royal Danish Conservatory of music when he was only 16 years old. He was accepted there at age 14…but much to his regret, he didn´t get a chance to study with the professor he had hoped for. So at 16 he left with some distress, feeling that he was not learning enough..!

    He soon went off to Iceland to become concertmaster of the Reykjavik Symphony orchestra aged 16 and at 18 he was enrolled at Juillard as one of Ivan Galamians promising students. His fellow students here were Michael Rabin, Kyung Wha Chung, Itzhak Perlmann, Pinchas Zuckermann, Paul Rosentahl, Jerrold Rubinstein and many others…what a class.!!

    Ankers bowing technique was legendary and often Ivan Glamian would ask him to demonstrate to his other students how he would practice all the different staccatos–up-bow…down-bow…even sideways from bridge to fingerboard…it seemed limitless somehow.

    To support himself financially during the Juillard years he played in many clubs and soon it was discovered that he had humour…almost equal to Victor Borge. He was featured on the Merv Griffin and Johnny Carson tv-shows and made quite a career in being a very funny entertainer combining classical violin with stingy humour…juggling with the violin..playing it backwards, behind his back,,between his legs…rocketting the bow high up in the air and catching it right on time to play the beginning of the Tchaikowskij concerto…all with a Victor Borge like timing. He would improvise in between his act, often catching a funny situation in the audience. I remember one show he made about 7 years ago where a grumpy old bald man was sitting at the first row… Anker went down to him…plucking the violinstrings with left hand and stroking the mans bald head with the well rosined bow…laughing to the auduence..” I always wanted to play on the moon”…!

    Returning back to Denmark in 1964, Anker was awarded the prestigeous Jacob Gade scholarship (royaltees of the Tango Jalousie..) of DKR 60.000 which in those days was a huge sum.of money. But somehow the Copenhageners had never forgotten that he had slammed the door at the conservatory… One could call it snobbism from the inhabitants of that city…perhaps a feature they need to keep up their image.?. Or perhaps they found that Anker was a bit too daring when he would combine humour with classial music.?.- or perhaps they couldn´t grasp that he was both a very funny entertainer and a very fine classical violinist.?.

    No matter what…there is probably no one in the history of our country who has done so much to spread the joy of music making.. Anker started playing at the many hundreds of small village churches where the acoustics are often great for solo violin playing. He also began visiting primary, secondary and high schools making one hour concerts where he would demonstrate how much fun you can have playing the violin. This came at a time when electric guitar and rock and roll music was virtually killing the violin-playing tradition in our country (1960-1980´s ). Throughout his career Anker never forgot his audience abroad and he toured America, Asia and Europe extensively..

    One thing he never forgot was his fathers advice..”Play something nice..something that people will recognize and remember. He wanted people to come to a concert, be entertained and be moved to a different place. He was very aware that all music making comes from the simplest folk tune that anobody should be able to sing. Melody was above all the most important to him..and to serve it proper ad right.

    Anker Buch saw the need for teaching violin playing at a high level and thus started up a summer school for string players on the island of Mors in the Limfjord. During 3-4 weeks people could book themselves for one..perhaps two or even three weeks of intensive violin playing.

    Amateurs, conservatory students, orchestra musicians, old or young…the youngest 4-5 years the oldest 80-90 years.. Usually there was about 200 students per week and each would get a chance to play, listen to master classes and soloconcerts. The summerschool was that great chance for people to learn, practice and practise even more (the words of Galamian…go home and practice..!). Players like Nikolai Znaider, Lars Bjørnkjær (concertmaster od the Royal Danish Opera), Odin Rathnam, David Bogorad (Concertmaster Tessaloniki Symphony Orchestra) young Niklas Walentin (pricevinner at the Carl Nielsen competition…all made their beginning on the violin under the guidance of Anker…

    This type of summer school continues today in his spirit with concertmaster Lars Bjørnkjær, Flemming Andersen and Leif Greibe as main instructors. it is called “Danish Strings” and can be found on the internet. The course runs for one week in June/July each year.

    In 1981 Anker bought a closed down lime stone mine and turned it into a tourist attraction. After af few years and some restoration he tripled the number of visitors from 20.000 to 60.000 per year.! One feature was concerts deep under the ground in the cathedral like caves.

    So for me the man might have slammed the door once in anger or distress…but this little detail becomes nothing and ridiculous when one thinks about all the doors he opened for the many students, listeners, amateurs and professionals alike.

    There are many anecdotes about Anker and his life after having played more than 7000 concerts.

    I know that many people are searching to find film clips and these might be viewable on YouTube soon.

    He will be sadly missed but very fondly remembered…

    May he rest in peace..

    Jens Stenz, violinmaker


  • Lee Johnson says:

    One example of Anker playing – though very informal: This is “Lysets Engel” in a church performance with the ‘Bless The Day’ gospel choir. Enjoy.