B1919. LIONEL TERTIS. Cinderella no More. London, Peter Nevill, 1953. 118pp. Index; Photos; Illustrations incl. Diagram of the Tertis Model Viola. Choice copy in additional vinyl protective wrapper.
“The first autobiography written by Tertis at the age of 77. It's about how he brought the viola to be no longer neglected and considered the Cinderella of the string family, but an instrument with its own character and personality. Tertis' is the story of a crusade which, unlike most crusaders, he has lived to see triumphantly completed. His whole life has been spent in the service of the viola, which he found a Cinderella and has made a princess, enlisting by his art and his determination the interest of many of the first composers of the day. His book is an easy, colloquial account of an extraordinarily devoted life, enlivened by anecdotes of musical life and musical personalities. In an appendix the curious will find a diagram of the Tertis Model Viola which, rather than any book, will remain the true monument to his genius.”
- THE SPECTATOR, 23 Oct., 1953
"Lionel Tertis was the first really great player of the viola. He was born in West Hartlepool County Durham, on 29 December 1876, a birth date he shares with the cellist Pablo Casals. His parents came from Poland and when he was three months old the family moved to Stepney where his father, Alexander Tertis became cantor at the Princes Street Synagogue.
Lionel began playing the piano at the age of three and at six made his public debut. His ambition was to play the violin and at thirteen left home to earn a living playing the piano and to pay for violin lessons. In 1892 he entered Trinity College of Music, London, following six months at the Leipzig Conservatory and from 1895-97 at the Royal Academy of Music where he switched to the viola. This was a neglected instrument and Tertis had to teach himself. However, he fell in love with it and spent the rest of his life promoting it as a solo instrument.
In 1897 he joined the Queens Hall Orchestra under Henry Wood who is now best remembered as the founder of the Promenade Concerts. In 1901 he became the first viola professor at the Royal Academy of Music. By this time he had acquired a considerable reputation and in 1904 he left the orchestra to concentrate on his solo and chamber music career.
He married Ada Gawthorpe in 1913 and in that year moved into a house in the Crescent, Belmont in south Sutton, where they lived until his retirement from the concert platform in 1937. In his prime he ranked alongside Kreisler, Casals, Cortot, Rubinstein and other star players of the period. He made numerous recordings between 1913 and 1933 which have recently been re-issued on CDs. He became a fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 1922.
His promotion of the viola was helped by a number of major composers including Vaughan Williams, Holst, Walton, Elgar and Delius who either composed works for him or allowed the rearrangement of existing works. He added to the repertoire with many transcriptions and compositions of his own, some of which have recently been collected and republished."
Tony Pickard, The Friends of Honeywood Museum