S0687. JOSEPH FUCHS, w.Leonard Bernstein Cond. NYPO: Violin Concerto #2 (Piston), Live Performance, 18 May, 1962, Played by the dedicatee - [the Adagio of the Piston Concerto is one of haunting beauty, alone worth the minimal price of the entire CD]; LILLIAN FUCHS, w.Jonel Perlea Cond. Manhattan School of Music Orch. & Chorus: Flos Campi (Vaughan Williams), Live Performance, 21 Jan., 1965. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-331. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Lillian Fuchs, a renowned violist, composer, teacher and keeper of musical tradition, was ‘one of the best string players in America’, Harold C. Schonberg wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES in 1962, and she went on to become one of the most respected string teachers in the world. She taught from 1962 to 1991 at the Manhattan School of Music, from 1964 to 1990 at the Aspen Music Festival and School, and from 1971 to 1993 at the Juilliard School, where she was an emeritus member of the faculty until her death.
‘I just developed quietly because nobody paid any attention to me even in my family’, she told THE STRAD magazine in 1986. ‘They were always fussing over Joseph. I didn't mind at all. I was delighted to be left alone’. She studied violin with the noted Franz Kneisel at the New York Institute of Musical Art, now the Juilliard School, and graduated with highest honors in 1924.
Ms. Fuchs made her New York début on the violin in 1926, but soon shifted her concentration to viola. She collaborated often in performance with her brother Joseph and her other brother, Harry, a cellist. She played in a number of chamber groups, notably the Perole String Quartet and the Musicians Guild, and appeared as a soloist with major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Casals Festival Orchestra.
Ms. Fuchs was the first violist to perform and record the six Bach suites written for solo cello. ‘The measure of an artist is the silence he or she can inspire’, Ross Parmenter wrote in THE TIMES in 1948 of her performance of the Sixth Suite. ‘The silence for her performance was so intense that someone rattling cellophane in the back of the hall was an irritation to almost the whole audience’.
Ms. Fuchs was an important teacher of chamber performance as well as of the viola. Her first pupil, she said in the 1986 STRAD article, was ‘this boy from the West Coast’: Isaac Stern. She also taught Pinchas Zukerman, and encouraged him to play viola as well as violin.”
- James R. Oestreich, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 7 Oct., 1995
"Lillian Fuchs was considered the FIRST LADY OF THE VIOLA, and enjoyed a very successful career as a performer, composer, and teacher. Her students at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music became the elite players of the viola in the US and her influence is still very much alive."
- Laura Rónai, FANFARE, Sept./Oct., 2005
“Vaughan Williams played the viola, and frequently professed it was his favorite instrument. Along with the Suite for viola and orchestra of 1934, his most significant work for the instrument is the unusual FLOS CAMPI (Flower of the Field). It was first performed on 10 October, 1925, in London, with violist Lionel Tertis, voices from the Royal College of Music, and the Queen's Hall Orchestra conducted by Sir Henry Wood. The reaction was mixed, and even such close friends of the composer as Gustav Holst admitted themselves puzzled by this subtle and voluptuous work.
The work opens with the juxtaposition of viola and oboe, both playing melodically but in different keys, creating palpable tension. This opening movement is languorous and mysterious, its associated text speaking of the sickness of love, of how it is a ‘lily among thorns’. Nature springs to life in the second movement, with the ‘singing of birds’ and the ‘voice of the turtle’. But the beloved is not present, and the third movement is passionate and agitated, with the viola accompanied mostly by the women of the choir. The orchestra takes up this music in a more peaceful strain, and the choir sings in sweet polyphony. The opening viola-oboe duet returns, but its ambivalence is resolved as the melodic material of the fifth movement is taken up again in a quiet and magical coda.”
- Chris Morrison, allmusic.com
“It was unfortunate for Joseph Fuchs that he played at a time when active violinists included Heifetz, Kreisler, Elman, Milstein, Stern, Oistrakh, Kogan, Francescatti, and a great many others. Fuchs may have lacked the flash and charisma of some of his contemporaries, and he also spent 14 years as concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra (1926-1940) before truly pursuing a solo career. And he also devoted much of his time to teaching at the Juilliard School. For all of those reasons, he never achieved the popularity among general audiences of a number of his contemporaries. But he was greatly admired by his peers, by professional musicians of all stripes. He also was an advocate for new music, much more so than many of his colleagues, commissioning and premiering works throughout his career.
After leaving the Cleveland Orchestra he was first violinist of the Primrose Quartet (Josef Gingold, William Primrose, and Harvey Shapiro being the remaining players) from 1941-43, made a solo début in Carnegie Hall in 1943, and began touring Europe, Asia, and the U.S. extensively.
Fuchs played well, even in his late years. He was born in 1899, so both of these recitals were given when he was in his early seventies. Both show him with undiminished technical skills and with great imagination in a huge range of repertoire.
I heard Fuchs play in concert, and have heard studio recordings of his, and the one problem here is that the issue of recorded balance does not do justice to his tone, which even in the early 1970s was still richer than what comes across these discs. But we should still be grateful for their existence, because they document one of the masters of the violin of the middle and late 20th century in performance, and lovers of the instrument will surely want to obtain these.
As is usual with Saint Laurent Studios, the quality of the transfers is superb, and there are no program notes. These are available at Norbeck, Peters & Ford.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE
“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