At 92, Ivry’s going strong

At 92, Ivry’s going strong


norman lebrecht

August 26, 2014

Happy birthday, one day late, to our beloved Ivry Gitlis – probably the best violinist never to have a record career (though he became world famous on film and television).

(Click on ‘Post’ if video fails to pop out).

ivry film



  • Carlos says:

    The best violinist, period.

    • M2N2K says:

      That is an exaggeration: NL’s qualifier makes his statement much more reasonable, though still arguable.

      • Carlos says:

        Being a professional violinist myself, no violinist is more exciting, technically, musically, thanks this guy. But again it is a matter of taste.

        • M2N2K says:

          Technically, IG in his prime was not far behind the very best, but musically, many violinists of the last hundred years were and are much more interesting and convincing. In fact, some of the great ones played more impressively overall as teenagers than he ever did. On the other hand, IG is one of the most charismatic personalities and engaging storytellers among musicians.

          • funny coincidence & birthdays says:

            Technically, IG in his prime was not far behind the very best, but musically, many violinists of the last hundred years were and are much more interesting and convincing…

            You are talking meaningless gibberish.

            1/ There is no such thing as “THE BEST”, but the clear elistist cobblers people talk is a sign of the times.

            2/ 100 years? So how old are you. Have your HEARD Kreiser or Elman personally?
            I imagine Ivry has, never mind all those marvellous pupils Flesch’s classes.
            He like others had admiration for Hassid.

            3/ Interesting or convincing?
            I take it you have been in his classes, or recorded him, and heard him rehearsing the Strauss sonate?
            That was a lesson in itself, although it never went to the concert.

            4/ I take it you have never heard Ivry playing/leading in the Mendelssohn octet?

            Get some ears and musical education before you start talking uninformed tosh please.

          • M2N2K says:

            Since you are trying to argue with some of the points I made, my “gibberish” cannot by definition be “meaningless”. One cannot argue with something that has no meaning.
            1. The “best” terminology was introduced, with a sensible qualifier, by NL in his post above, but then abused by carlos in the very first comment here – so your objection should be addressed to one or both of them, because I used it simply in response to carlos’s exaggeration. But I agree that no one should be called “the best”, which is precisely why I never said that this questionable designation fits anyone.
            2. Of course IG has heard more of last century’s greats in person than I have (partially because I am younger) and, being a gracious and intelligent person, he has talked very highly about many of them, but that does not change my opinion of his playing in comparison to those that I have heard, in person and in many recordings.
            3. No, but my objection to carlos’s exaggeration is about IG’s playing only – in fact, I have already noted in my earlier comment that as a conversationalist he is outstanding.
            4. No, but I have heard him in live performances and in recordings more than enough times to know his level of violinistic virtuosity and interpretational sophistication.
            My musical education was of a very high quality and it has served me well in my professional life as a musician. Personal insults are never effective in making meaningful arguments.

  • NYMike says:

    I still have an old Dover LP of Bartok violin concerto and solo sonata with Gitlis. Very exciting playing.

  • thomas says:

    Happy Birthday Ivry.
    The Brahms & Schumann piano 4tets & 5tets chamber music concerts in France will always remain unforgettable.

  • Gaffney Feskoe says:

    Happy birthday indeed Mr. Gilis!

    I only wish he appeared more often in the USA.

  • ruben greenberg says:

    His Paris flat is a beehive of musicians of all ages that come for advice or just for his company and good jokes.

  • funny coincidence & birthdays says:

    “Rubato is the art of playing in time” I.G.

    • M2N2K says:

      This reminds me of a conductor who liked making absurdist pronouncements such as “The only trouble with Mahler Symphonies is that they are too short” and “The only trouble with Webern’s pieces is that they are too long”. Do you find such statements wise and profound? For me, they are just lame attempts to be original. We all know what rubato is and “playing in time” may be an important part of making it work well, but it certainly isn’t all that is required to make it musically convincing.

      • funny coincidence & birthdays says:

        That really is the drama.
        I am unsurprised to hearing these pronouncements from members of the musical profession…
        “we all know what rubato is” Really? Do you?

        So no doubt you can also get the meaning of other “unoriginal comments”…

        “When I and Martha get together we invent” IG.

        (This is from someone who routinely plays with one of the greatest pianists in the world today for some decades)

        When was the last time YOU did that?

        I don’t doubt it takes time to understand fully the “unending creative stream that animates Ivry” (YM)

        I don’t expect those conditioned by modern living’s corruption of the arts to understand much at all, least of all as to “what constitutes a musical interpretation”..

        • M2N2K says:

          Yes of course I know what rubato is – have been playing it, and trying to improve the way I do it, for years. The last time I had the pleasure of performing together with Martha Argerich was a few years ago, but it is not for me to decide whether we “invented” anything or not.
          Your comments addressed to me make it appear as if I do not recognize that Ivry Gitlis in his prime was a brilliant violinist. Nothing can be further from the truth. There is no doubt in my mind that he was outstanding. I simply do not agree that he is or at any time was “the best”, that’s all. Fortunately for us, there is no such thing as “the best” in music, which is exactly what you pointed out in one of your previous comments here, and, as I already noted earlier, I remain in complete agreement with you on that.