The forgotten accompanist, 100 today

The forgotten accompanist, 100 today


norman lebrecht

July 01, 2015

Albert Hirsh, born July 1, 1915, has a new website.

Albert shared the stage with Nathan Milstein, Yehudi Menuhin and Itzhak Perlman. He was Emanuel Feuermann’s regular partner. He died, aged 88, in December 2003.

albert hirsh

Here’s a reminiscence by Robert Hairgrove.


  • Robert Hairgrove says:

    Norman: Thank you so much for posting this! I hope that many of your readers will take the opportunity to get acquainted with the art of Albert Hirsh.

    One of my favorite things (to be found under the “PRINT” link on the website) is a letter that he received from Emanuel Feuermann in mid-April (written on April 11), 1941, organizing a tour of Mexico which was to take place in early May of the same year … less than a month later than the letter was written! Feuermann goes to great length to impress his then 26-year-old accompanist (“recordings with Heifetz”, etc.), whom he addresses as “Dear Hirsh Esq.” although he is certainly an adult by then, only to ask him to agree to a pittance for a fee at the end of the letter. Fortunately, things have greatly improved for accompanists in the meantime (or have they?)

    Here is a link to the scanned image of the letter followed by a verbatim transcription (additions in square brackets are mine):


    [Letterhead:] Hotel Presidente, Havana (Cuba)
    April 11th, 1941

    Dear Hirsh Esqu.[ire],

    The concerts in Mexico are going to
    take shape. The plans are as follows:
    in the beginning of May I have to
    make recordings, with Heifetz and some
    other very bad [sic!] artist [most likely Arthur Rubinstein]. From 9th to 22nd
    of May 6 recitals shall take place in
    Mexico City and perhaps one or two in
    the province. My wife with Monica and
    Mrs. Reifenberg will go by train to Calif.[ornia]
    on the 12th. We go by car to Mexico
    because I want to continue from there
    to Calif. I think we shall have great

    I do not know how long it will take to
    Mexico and where we will have to part
    on the way back. I think we can
    leave on the 5th in the morning.

    We shall have all [!] the Beethoven and
    Brahms Sonatas on the program. Besides
    will you please “get in contact” with the
    concertos by Boccherini and Saint-Saëns.

    My concerts there are on a percentage
    basis and I must be careful in my
    calculations. Would you agree to $250
    for the _6_ concerts? That leaves you $150

    So long. Greetings at home.
    Cordially yours,
    E. Feuermann

    [PS – ] I am here until Tuesday morning and
    shall be back (home) on Thursday afternoon.

    [PPS – Franz] Rupp had 50 Dol.[lars] a concert, sometimes

  • Robert Hairgrove says:

    “…the “PRINT” link on the website…”

    Looks like this was changed to “PROGRAMS” in the meantime. However, the direct link to Feuermann’s letter should still work.

  • Tom McEvilley says:

    Mr Hirsh was a wonderful teacher and warm, funny man. When he was coaching me on a rather esoteric contemporary piece once, he remarked ruefully ” some of these contemporary composers should be called contemptuous composers instead; they seem to go out of the way to put up unnecessary obstacles for the performer, killing musicality.”