C1100. ARTUR RODZINSKI Cond. Cleveland Orch.: Khovanchina – Prélude (Mussorgsky); Marche slave; Romeo and Juliet (both Tschaikowsky); w.Joseph Fuchs (Violin solo): Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-001, recorded 20 Dec.,1939. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“I realise that yet another SCHEHERAZADE may not float your boat, but this 1939 inscription features a very characterful sounding Cleveland orchestra, long pre-Szell, with their concertmaster, the esteemed and long-lived Joseph Fuchs in prime form….Fuchs’ intense vibrato speed adds its own gloss, as does the trumpet principal whose bugle tone is a taste I think I have nearly acquired…. exciting, yes – [Rodzinski] certainly is exciting, and splendidly recorded too by Columbia. At the same sessions he recorded ROMEO AND JULIET. Again, this is a tautly argued affair, direct, no-nonsense but not without romance and lyricism when necessary. It must have stood up pretty well, even at a time when – or just after – you could find recordings by such as Beecham, Koussevitzky, Constant Lambert, Albert Coates and Stokowski.
There are no notes, just a card inlay with nice colour reproductions of the record label and album cover and a few brief comments….the reproduction is vivid and captures the strength of the performance very nicely.”
- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWebInternational
“Artur Rodzinski was born in Split, the capital of Dalmatia on 1 January, 1892. In Vienna, his teachers included Josef Marx and Franz Schreker (composition), Franz Schalk (conducting), and Emil von Sauer and Jerzy Lalewicz (piano). He returned to Lwów where he was engaged as chorus master at the Opera House, making his début as a conductor in 1920 with Verdi's ERNANI. The following year saw him conducting the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and at the Warsaw Opera House. While visiting Poland, Leopold Stokowski heard Rodzinski leading a performance of Wagner's DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG and exclaimed ‘I have found that rare thing, a born conductor!’ and invited him to conduct the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Between 1925 and 1929 he served as Stokowski's assistant, conducted for the Philadelphia Grand Opera and directed the opera and orchestral departments at the Curtis Institute of Music. From 1929 to 1933, Rodzinski became the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, garnering praise not only for his interpretations but for his innovative programming. From 1933 to 1943, he was music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, developing it into one of the foremost orchestras in America. He engaged new musicians and raised the playing standards to a very high level. His programs were innovative, offering works such as the first performance in America of Shostakovich's opera LADY MACBETH OF THE MTSENSK DISTRICT, which gained the orchestra national attention. Between December 1939 and February 1942, Rodzinski and the Cleveland Orchestra made an extensive series of recordings for the Columbia Records label.
During this time he appeared with the New York Philharmonic in 1934 and 1937, when his concert performance of Richard Strauss' ELEKTRA aroused great enthusiasm. Rodzinski was also active in Europe, becoming the first naturalized American citizen to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Festival in 1936 and 1937. At Arturo Toscanini's recommendation, Rodzinski was engaged by NBC to select the musicians for the new NBC Symphony Orchestra. He rigorously trained the orchestra and conducted its first concerts in 1937, before the arrival of Toscanini.
Rodzinski was appointed music director of the New York Philharmonic in 1943. Though his four-year tenure was marked by considerable acrimony with Arthur Judson, the powerful manager of the orchestra, Rodzinski achieved high standards of performance. The renowned music critic and composer Virgil Thomson wrote about Rodzinski's tenure at the Philharmonic: ‘We now have an orchestra that is a joy to hear...and we owe it all to Artur Rodzinski’." During Rodzinski's time on the podium the Philharmonic recorded extensively, again for Columbia, performed weekly live broadcasts on CBS Radio, and appeared in the feature film CARNEGIE HALL.
Despite, however, the quality of the orchestra's performances, numerous artistic matters such as the prerogative of the music director to dismiss musicians, select soloists and determine repertoire were persistent grounds of contention. Not willing to compromise on these matters, Rodzinski resigned in 1947. His reputation as a conductor was so prominent at this time that his resignation was the subject of a cover story in TIME MAGAZINE in February 1947.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra had been wooing Rodzinski for some time and now he decided to immediately accept the leadership of that orchestra starting with the 1947-1948 season. Here again, an inability to work with the board resulted in his swift departure after only one season. His short tenure still had a significant impact upon the orchestra and local audiences through performances such as a legendary account of Wagner's TRISTAN UND ISOLDE with Kirsten Flagstad.
After his departure from Chicago, Rodzinski's health began to deteriorate. There was little recording activity available to him in the U.S. and he settled in Europe once more. Here, his status as a major musician was recognized and he was invited to lead significant productions, such as the 1953 first performance of Prokofiev's WAR AND PEACE at the Maggio Musicale in Florence, as well as traditional repertoire works. He conducted at La Scala and also worked extensively for Italian radio, conducting well received readings of Wagner's TANNHÄUSER and TRISTAN, and Mussorgsky's BORIS GODUNOV and KHOVANSHCHINA. He re-established his presence as a recording artist through a contract with Westminster Records, for whom he recorded extensively with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London from 1955. His final recordings were for EMI in 1958.
By this time Rodzinski's health was fragile. He was warned by his Italian doctor that further conducting activity would put his life at risk. However, he returned to Chicago in 1958 to conduct TRISTAN once again, this time with the Chicago Lyric Opera and soprano Birgit Nilsson. His return was a triumph, but these were his last performances and he died shortly afterwards.”
“Joseph Fuchs, an American violinist long acclaimed for his vigorous, intelligent and technically assured performances of old and new music and for the quality of his teaching, was one of those select musicians admired as much by his peers as by audiences. He played not only the standard repertory but also works by such contemporaries as Stravinsky, Thomson and Hindemith. He pioneered in the performance of music by Ben Weber, Nikolai Lopatnikoff and Walter Piston. [A Ford Foundation grant in 1960 enabled him to commission Walter Piston’s Violin Concerto, the première of which he gave that year in Pittsburgh. Fuchs also gave the first performances of concertos by Lopatnikoff (1944–5), Ben Weber (1954) and Mario Peragallo (1955); of Martin’s Madrigal for violin and viola, dedicated to Fuchs and his sister Lillian (1947); of the revised version of Vaughan Williams’s Violin Sonata, with Artur Balsam (1969), and of the posthumous American première of Martin’s Sonata for two violins and piano (1974).]
‘Joseph Fuchs is the kind of violinist who makes you listen not to himself but to the music, and there is no higher compliment you can pay an artist’, Raymond Ericson wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES after a 1960 recital at Town Hall.
Joseph Fuchs studied with the noted Franz Kneisel at the Institute of Musical Art, now the Juilliard School, and graduated in 1918. He gave his New York début recital in 1920 at Aeolian Hall. In 1926 Mr. Fuchs was appointed concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra, a post he held until 1940. After Cleveland, he resumed his solo career. He gave his last recital, at Carnegie Hall, in 1992 and his last public performance, at the Juilliard School, in 1995 [at age 95].
He often appeared in concert with his sister, Lillian Fuchs, a violist. Mr. Fuchs also collaborated regularly with the pianist Artur Balsam and the cellist Leonard Rose. Mr. Fuchs was a founding member of the Musicians Guild, a chamber music organization that presented many concerts during the 1940s and ‘50s. A true upholder of the Kneisel tradition, he called chamber music his 'true love’. He became a professor of violin at the Juilliard School in 1946 and held the position until his death. He was a founder of the Blue Hill Music School in Maine in 1953, a summer program that evolved into the Summer Chamber Music Institute at Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y.
Mr. Fuchs made many recordings, including one of the first complete sets of the Beethoven violin sonatas, with Balsam in 1952. He also recorded Mozart's works for violin and viola, the duos and the Sinfonia Concertante, with his sister…vivid testimonials to his artistry. [He played the ‘Cádiz Stradivarius’ violin of 1722].”
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 17 March, 1997
“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011