Take a second, said Ivry

Take a second, said Ivry


norman lebrecht

December 26, 2020

More tributes to the tremendous Ivry Gitlis, who died this week.


And here’s Ivry taking a second for a tribute nine years ago to the ‘secret genius’ Vitaly Margulis, who had just died.


Portrait by Polish photographer Bogdan Kułakowski


  • Rob says:

    Can we please have a Mahler blog before the New Year?

  • Edgar Self says:

    Real music, the passacaglia slow movement of Bach’s violin concerto in E major, I think, one of three such passacaglias in his concertos, wel- remembered from Adolf Busch, Bronislaw Hubermann, Szigeti, and nearly every other violinist who ever lived. I couldn’t hear as much of the solo vioin as I’d like at this slow tempo, perhaps because of microphone placement, though that would be strange in a concerto.

  • yujafan says:

    Ivry was a true force of nature, truly made of music.

  • Gareth says:

    Ivry had this wonderful “golden period” around 1997-2005.
    The sound was very different, without the “rage and fury” characteristic of the 60s-70s, and unfortunately very often poor quality recording.

    Sadly even some of the recordings with Martha are just awful quality, making them hard to listen to. eg. the concert in Carnegie hall was hammered awfully by the critics, whp described it as a ‘train wreck”. (not the opinion of Itzhak P who heard it on the radio and rang up to say how wonderful and refreshing it was!)…

    Thanks to the assistance of our marvellous Prof Schneider Strasburg, a ref in the world of audio, (who designed the famous “conque” of Roque d’Anteron..) , it became possible to record many of the great moments during that golden time.
    Othon always said “it is easy to record real musicians, we have nothing to do”.
    How true!

    It was my opinion, there’s very many many ways to make music.

    One of them is to transfer to new generations what truly constitutes this “essence” of the essential, as Heifetz aptly termed “we are just carriers of this flame”.
    “There is no top,- There are always further heights to reach”.

    Ivry signed a photo portrait, which he really liked, it is hung on his wall, and that of Prof Othon Schneider to this day.

  • Craig Horst says:

    Forever grateful to slippedisc for making me aware of great artists who otherwise may have escaped my attention.

    My life has been greatly enriched by knowing about Ivry Gitlis. Thank you for uploading the videos which otherwise I probably never would have never seen.

    • Violin Accordion says:

      Great artistes the like of Neveu, De Vito, Haendel, Bagdasarganz, David Nadien, Szeryng, Suk Grumiaux, Schneiderhan(my teacher’s teacher), Ricci, Kogan, Rosand, Krebbers, Bean, Pougnet, Holmes, and the contemporary septuagenarians Dumay, Ughi, some of which you may not know and may enjoy exploring.
      These were all dedicated to the integrity of the music they performed, servants of the music without attention seeking exaggeration or distortion for its own sake .
      None of these created a ‘circus’ around their appearances, or any controversy or flippancy whatsoever .
      Gitlis had moments of brilliance but far too often his performances were focused on hysteria and hyperbole, egged on by his worshippers, whereas none of the above listed attracted or needed, or indeed wanted any of this. The true message and integrity of the music was enough for them, without the necessity of virtuosity , often for its own sake.
      You may balk at my comments, but they are matched by criticism of the recently late Ida Haendel by many others. Although a great presence in the world of music, she shunned celebrity and fame and was never an object of notoriety.

      • Gareth says:

        You are wrong.
        When asked Heifetz was reported to have said “what is your favourite violinist?” The answer was “IVRY Gitlis”.

        When chatting with Ivry about his (close friends), such as Oistrakh and Milstein who visited him, we broached the questions of Auer (and how Auer felt he was really on occasions – quite unable to play!), and the “great violin traditions” from Russian, Franco-Belgian schools, he was constantly praising others…

        ..Milstein of course for his sheer incredible constancy for playing in public, and Heifetz who suffered such terrible stage fright before coming on stage “he was white”….

        Norbert Brainin being another much admired one with his quartet of sheer “magic”, and of course Ricci, Hubermann, Neuveu, and last but not least…Leonid Kogan.

        His comment was absolute.
        Of all the great not so well known violinists, he thought Kogan was one of the very greatest, truly wonderful, (and of course as recognisable instantly as a Kreisler or a Heifetz).

        If like Ivry you had half your best friends disappear during your life (because you outlived them), and were faced with the morphing of a profession from something that rewarded merit, to a mere reproduction machine turning out more and more of the same, one could be forgiven for being a little revolted and saying it out loud.

        As for the “focused on hysteria and hyperbole, egged on by his worshippers”.
        What planet are you on?

        I personally witnessed him use some spare time at the end of one of his courses teaching students how to get quality results by simple exercises, and what worked for him to “keep fit”. One of them was Flesch’s Urstudien.
        This is the kind of thing never taught in “master classes”, and I have seen a few.

        (I saw one with Gudula Janowitz and she adopted a similar basic approach).

        It’s not popular to say things the way they are.
        Fact is, after listening to the program on France Musique today, we are all feeling an even keener sense of loss, of someone who was a true violinist’s friend in every sense.

        He gave so much to so many, literally all over the world.
        In Richter’s definition “what actually constitutes a true musical interpretation”.

        Inspiring others to do better, opening horizons, which in many cases we didn’t even know existed…like Carl Flesch did with his students, teaching them that in his very own words … “you teach me more than I could ever hope or even dare to presume to teach you”

        What’s not to like?

        • Violin Accordion says:

          An opinion is neither right or wrong .
          But maybe calling someone’s opinion wrong is…….. I would never be so presumptuous

          • Bone says:

            An opinion that isn’t right or wrong…what on earth does that even mean?
            Also, de mortuis nihil nisi bonum is a good rule of thumb when writing about deceased artists with whom you have strong opinions.

          • Violin Accordion says:

            I passed opinion about a violinist. The demolition team answered ‘you’re wrong ‘ followed by a personal diatribe.

            I was well brought up with the gentlemanly concept. ‘ agree to disagree’
            And in answer to your Latin (of which my A Level Latin avails a translation, unlike some others here), we could agree to disagree with my ahem, opinion that you cannot slander the dead (under common law)

  • SMH says:

    Honestly, trying to understand the appeal beyond his obviously charming personality. Are there videos or recordings that reveal something besides a coarse tone, erratic rhythm and sloppy ensemble?