More than two years ago on Slipped Disc, the violinist Aaron Rosand accused the late Isaac Stern of sabotaging his career. ‘I offended him early on when I refused his offers to coach me,’ wrote Rosand, proceeding to list a number of occasions when his path had been blocked by his senior colleague.
Now, correspondence has come to light in the Stern papers at the Library of Congress which shows Stern, late in life, heaping effusive praise on Rosand in letters to the Los Angeles patron and Heifetz friend, Richard Colburn.
Asking Colburn for a copy of a Rosand recording of the Ysaye sonatas he had heard in Colburn’s office in 1993, Stern writes: ‘From what I could hear briefly it was playing of an extraordinary quality. I have known him for many years and would like to congratulate him personally.’
After hearing the record, Stern wrote again to Colburn: ‘I found the playing extraordinary, particularly in the virtuoso works by Ysaye and others. The Bach is well played but somewhat romanticised. But it is played with so much authority, thought and cleanliness that it makes its own valid points.’
These do not sound like the comments of a lifelong adversary. But then life is seldom cast in black and white.