Facing the Music    (Henri Temianka)    (McKay)
Item# B0214
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Facing the Music    (Henri Temianka)    (McKay)
B0214. HENRI TEMIANKA. Facing the music, an irreverent close-up of the Real Concert World. New York, McKay, 1973. 272pp. Index; Photos; DJ. Temianka, born in Scotland but subsequently an American citizen, was a violinist & conductor who founded The Paganini String Quartet. Final copy!


"...there was above all Henry Temianka, who did great credit to the [Curtis] Institute: both musically and technically, he possessed a model collection of talents."

- Carl Flesch

“The happiest times have always been when we have chamber music at our house -- veritable orgies of informal music-making, gastronomy, and story-swapping, with everybody in shirtsleeves. The warmth of musical and human empathy is unique. As we play, unrehearsed, a quartet of Beethoven or Mozart, there are extraordinary flashes of insight, thrilling moments of truth when we share the same concept of an exquisite phrase, sculpt the same melodic line, linger and savor the same ritardando or diminuendo. In those moments we spontaneously look up from our music, exchanging ecstatic smiles and glances. It is a level of spiritual communication granted few human beings.”

- Henri Temianka, from FACING THE MUSIC

“In the 1930s, Temianka made solo recordings, mostly on the Parlophone label, of works by Henryk Wieniawski, Gaetano Pugnani, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Johann Sebastian Bach, Karol Szymanowski, Pablo de Sarasate, Camille Saint-Saëns, Anton Arensky, Jean Sibelius and Frank Bridge.

After a brilliant New York début in 1928, described by Olin Downes in the The New York Times as ‘one of the finest accomplishments in years’, Temianka returned to Europe and rapidly established himself as one of the era’s foremost concert violinists. He made extensive concert tours through almost every country in Europe and appeared with major orchestras both in Europe and the U.S. under conductors including Pierre Monteux (who gave him his first Paris appearance), Sir John Barbirolli, Sir Adrian Boult, Fritz Reiner, Sir Henry J. Wood, George Szell, Otto Klemperer, Dimitri Mitropoulos, and William Steinberg. In Leningrad he was engaged for a single performance, but his virtuosity was so impressive that he was retained for five performances with five complete programs within a week.

In 1935 he won third prize in the first Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Warsaw, Poland; Ginette Neveu took first prize, and David Oistrakh second. In that year he also premiered a suite that the then-unknown Benjamin Britten had written for him and pianist Betty Humby, and performed music by Sergei Prokofiev, with the composer at the piano in Moscow; and Ralph Vaughan Williams conducted his violin concerto for him in London. In 1936 he founded the Temianka Chamber Orchestra in London. He was the concertmaster of the Scottish Orchestra from 1937 to 1938. He gave his first concert in Los Angeles, a violin recital, at the Wilshire Ebell in 1940. From 1941 to 1942 he was the concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony under Fritz Reiner, performing as soloist in concertos including the Beethoven and Mozart A major.

He also appeared as violin soloist in a 1941 recording of Richard Strauss’ DON QUIXOTE by the Pittsburgh Symphony under Fritz Reiner, featuring cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. Conducting the Los Angeles Percussion Ensemble, he recorded Ginastera’s Cantata para America Magica and Carlos Chavez’s Toccata for Percussion Instruments for Columbia Records.

With the Paganini Quartet, he recorded many of the Beethoven string quartets, Joseph Haydn's ‘Emperor’ and Mozart’s ‘Dissonant’ quartets, and quartets by Britten, Debussy, Ravel, Schumann, Verdi, Ginastera, Lajhta, and Benjamin Lees; the Schumann Piano Quintet and Fauré Piano Quartet No. 1 with Arthur Rubinstein, and the Brahms Piano Quintet with Ralph Votapek.

In 1945 he performed at Carnegie Hall. Over the next 45 years he made appearances in more than 3,000 concerts in 30 countries, with some 500 concerts in the Los Angeles metropolitan area alone, appearing as violin soloist, conductor of the California Chamber Symphony, first violinist of the Paganini Quartet, and in remarkable chamber music recitals such as Beethoven and Bach violin sonata cycles with pianists Lili Kraus, Leonard Pennario, Rudolf Firkušný, George Szell and Anthony Newman. He performed the Bach Double Violin Concerto with David Oistrakh, Yehudi Menuhin, Henryk Szeryng and Jack Benny. His chamber groups performed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center and the Mark Taper Forum. In the 1980s his California Chamber Virtuosi gave concerts at Pepperdine University and at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, California.

As an avid chamber music player, Temianka hosted frequent private musical evenings in his Los Angeles home, playing with the likes of Yehudi Menuhin, Jascha Heifetz, Isaac Stern, Joseph Szigeti, David Oistrakh, Henryk Szeryng, Leonard Pennario, William Primrose, Gregor Piatigorsky, Jean-Pierre Rampal and other luminaries. Temianka was equally adept on the viola as the violin, and sometimes played it during these evenings, as well as in concert in 1962 with Isaac Stern in a performance of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante (which he also performed on violin with William Primrose on viola).

Temianka wrote more than 100 articles for various periodicals including Instrumentalist, The Strad, Reader’s Digest, Saturday Review, Esquire, Hi-Fi Stereo Review, Musical America, Etude and Holiday.

In 1973, his amusing, anecdotal autobiography titled FACING THE MUSIC was published by David McKay Company.”

- Zillah D. Akron