C1413. ARTUR RODZINSKI Cond. NYPO: Escales (Ibert), recorded 27 Feb., 1945; Nutcracker - Suite (Tschaikowsky), recorded 20 Feb., 1946; RODZINSKI Cond. Cleveland Orch.. w. LOUIS KRASNER: Violin Concerto 'To the memory of an Angel' (Berg), recorded 15 Dec., 1940 (CREATOR Recording). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-282. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"[Krasner's] performances and recordings of the works of Berg and Schonberg had a special significance in music history, enabling these pieces - especially the Berg Violin Concerto, an especially beguiling and appealing work (perhaps the only piece of 12-tone music ever to find a relatively wide audience) - to reach the audiences they deserved."
- Bruce Eder
"Louis Krasner, the Russian-born American violinist who gave the premieres of the Alban Berg and Arnold Schonberg Violin Concerti and was a champion of 20th-century music, had a career as a virtuoso recitalist when he was young, and in his later years he taught at Syracuse University, the New England Conservatory and at Tanglewood. But he has always been best known for having persuaded Alban Berg to compose the exquisitely lyrical concerto that has become a centerpiece of the modern violin repertory.
Mr. Krasner was born in Cherkassy, Ukraine, on 21 June, 1903, and moved to Providence, R.I., with his family in 1908. In the mid-1920's, Mr. Krasner continued his studies with Lucien Capet in Paris, Otakar Sevcik in Pesek, Czechoslovakia, and Carl Flesch in Berlin, and began his concert career in Europe. By then he had become an advocate of 20th- century composers, most notably Joseph Achron and Alfredo Casella, whose concerti he performed throughout Europe in 1928.
In 1930, he met Berg, Anton Webern and other Schonberg students in Vienna, and was immediately taken with Schonberg's 12-tone technique, a way of organizing themes that avoided conventional tonality. After hearing a performance of Berg's opera WOZZECK, he resolved to commission a violin concerto from the composer. It was Mr. Krasner's belief, when he broached the subject to Berg during a visit to Vienna in 1935, that the sort of songful, emotionally rich concerto that he knew Berg could write might break down the concert world's opposition to the 12-tone style.
Berg first resisted, telling Mr. Krasner that a young violinist would do better to play showpieces by Wieniawski or Vieuxtemps. But Mr. Krasner persisted and within six months - inspired partly by the death of Manon Gropius, the 18-year-old daughter of Alma Mahler and the architect Walter Gropius - Berg completed the work. Mr. Krasner gave its premiere in Barcelona on 19 April, 1936, performed it in several European and American cities, and made the first recording of the work [above].
While touring Europe and the United States with the Berg work, Mr. Krasner was in touch with Schonberg, who had already moved to the United States and had completed a violin concerto around the same time as Berg. The work had been composed for Rudolf Kolish, but Kolish was touring with his quartet and had not had time to perform it, so Mr. Krasner agreed to give the premiere with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra on 6 Dec., 1940.
The Schonberg was not as successful as the Berg, but Mr. Krasner continued to perform it. Composers admired his technical fluidity and the persuasive warmth that Mr. Krasner brought to their music, and he gave the premieres of works by several American composers, among them Roger Sessions, Henry Cowell and Roy Harris.
Mr. Krasner curtailed his solo career in 1944, when he became concertmaster of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. He left the post in 1949 to join the faculty of Syracuse, where he taught violin and chamber music until 1972. He was also concertmaster of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra from 1960 to 1968. In 1976 he joined the faculties of the New England Conservatory and the Berkshire Music Center. Although he was unable to perform in his last year, he never retired from teaching."
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 5 May, 1995
"Although Rodzinski conducted most of the Country's major orchestras, his tenure often ended in a huff. In 1947 he had quit the coveted job of boss of the New York Philharmonic because, he said, he felt hemmed in and hampered by the Philharmonic's businesslike manager.
Rodzinski was known as a great builder of orchestras. Time and again he took over run-down orchestras and in a few years, by cajolery, psychology and almost ruthless dedication, built them into the finest of artistic groups."
- LOS ANGELES TIMES, 28 Nov., 1958
“Artur Rodzinski, a conductor of incandescent talent and an equally brilliant gift for self-destruction, cut a scandalous path through American music a generation ago. A long with Toscanini and Stokowski, the bushyhaired Polish musician summed up in the public's eyes all that a real maestro was supposed to be: preening, arbitrary, dictatorial, unpredictable, driven by ambition. Rodzinski was all these, as his widow Halina freely documents in her fascinating memoirs. And more: Rodzinski during significant portions of his career was mentally ill, dependent on drugs and in thrall to all sorts of spiritual fads and fancies. That a man as disturbed as Rodzinski could operate, often dazzlingly well, during his relatively untroubled moments is perhaps a tribute to the stability of the domestic life he had built around himself. Mrs. Rodzinski, in the way wives of great men once were expected to act, put her life entirely at the disposal of her master.
Both Rodzinski and his wife came from a culture and a time (Poland before World War II) when such an arrangement was accepted as normal. 'I come before everything and everyone else', Rodzinski told Halina before their wedding, and he left her in no doubt of it by thereupon spending his wedding night without her, on the town. His wife, with less outward resentment than one would expect, depicts herself as hardly more than a servant. She sharpened his pencils, changed his shirts and brushed his hair at intermissions. Oh, yes, and it was her duty, too, to lay out the loaded revolver along with the maestro's tails before a concert. This bizarre story, which has long been talked about in disbelief In the orchestra world, can now be certified as true. Rodzinski carried the weapon - loaded - in a hip pocket whenever he faced an orchestra, even during rehearsals. Learning of this later, many a player who had displeased Rodzinski at one time or another must have experienced a slight frisson.”
- Donal Henahan, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 23 May, 1976
"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