S0030. RUGGIERO RICCI: Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Unaccompanied (J. S. Bach). 2-Westminster MCAD2-9841, recorded 1967. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 008812984129
“Ruggiero Ricci, a virtuoso violinist who first awed audiences at age 10 with his mastery of Mendelssohn and later remade himself into a mature musician whose range reached from the 19th-century acrobatics of Paganini’s Caprices to premiere performances of contemporary works, grew up in San Francisco, the son of an Italian immigrant and amateur trombonist who insisted that all seven of his children learn to play instruments.
By 6, Ruggiero was taking lessons from Louis Persinger, who was also teaching another neighborhood prodigy, Yehudi Menuhin. ‘If it weren’t for Menuhin, I wouldn’t be here’, Mr. Ricci said. ‘He is four years older than I am, and he got everyone thinking about prodigies. But believe me, when you find a prodigy, you find an ambitious parent in the background’.
He made his performance debut in San Francisco in 1928, playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, and soon toured New York and Europe. Critics raved when he played the Mendelssohn in Manhattan in 1929….his promoters shaved two years from his age to make him seem even more precocious. It was not the only way his identity had been manipulated.
His parents initially named him Woodrow Wilson Rich but later gave him his Italian-sounding name because it seemed a better fit for a musical prodigy. Throughout his life he was called Roger.
As Ruggiero advanced into his teenage years, some critics suggested that his technical talent was overtaking his interpretive ability. Yet it was at this time that Mr. Ricci began mastering the music that would later help him reinvigorate his career: the 24 Caprices, Paganini’s fiery and daunting works for solo violin. He played the pieces frequently during World War II, alone on stages in front of soldiers while he served as an ‘entertainment specialist’ in the Army Air Forces. After the war he became the first to record the works unaccompanied, in 1947. ‘I forced myself in that direction because nobody had taken that road’, he told THE TIMES. ‘I had to make a comeback’.
He toured and taught almost constantly for the next five decades, working at Indiana University, Juilliard and elsewhere and performing a vast repertory that included Paganini as well as works by Bach and many other composers.”
- William Yardley - THE NEW YORK TIMES, 9 Aug., 2012