S0449. TOSSY SPIVAKOVSKY, w.Hannikainen Cond. London S.O.: Concerto in d; Hannikainen Cond.: Tapiola (both Sibelius). 2-Classic HDAC 2030. - 601704203096
“Nathan 'Tossy' Spivakovsky was born in Odessa in 1906 and grew up in Berlin, where he studied with Arrigo Serato privately and with Willy Hess at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. Being a prodigy, he gave his first recital at age 10 and had his first European tour at age 13, becoming concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic at only 18 after being talent-spotted by Wilhelm Furtwängler. A year later, he left to follow a solo career.
In the 1920s he played in the Spivakovsky Duo with his brother Jacob 'Jascha' (1896–1970), a talented pianist. In 1930 he formed the Spivakovsky-Kurtz Trio with Jascha and cellist Edmund Kurtz. The trio was on a tour of Australia in 1933 when the Nazi Party took power in Germany. This put an end to his European career, and he decided to stay. He married in Australia and had a child. All three members of the trio joined the teaching staff of the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. Jascha remained in Australia and became an Australian citizen. Another brother, the violinist and cellist Isaac 'Issy' (1902–1977), who had studied violin under Willy Hess, and cello with Hugo Becker and Gregor Piatigorsky, also migrated to Australia in 1934, and for 28 years (1937–1965) taught violin, viola and cello at Scotch College, Melbourne. A fourth brother, Adolf (1891–1958), a bass-baritone, also migrated to Melbourne in 1934 and taught at the University Conservatorium where his students included the sopranos Glenda Raymond and Sylvia Fisher. Tossy remained in Melbourne for seven years but in 1940, he moved to the United States, and made his New York début at Town Hall that year. He became leader of the Cleveland Orchestra under Artur Rodzinski, was frequently soloist, and in this capacity in 1943 he gave the first United States performance of Bartók’s Violin Concerto #2, a performance which Bartók himself described as ‘first rate’. He also gave the work its first performances in New York and San Francisco. ‘Was this the best since Heifetz’, wrote the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE's Alfred Frankenstein after a 1948 performance of the Bartók Violin Concerto, ‘or was this just the best, period?’ Following Tossy's New York performance of the Violin Concerto by Gian Carlo Menotti, a review appearing in the 3 May, 1954 edition of TIME Magazine stated: ‘As always, his tone was luxuriant, his pitch impeccable, and he brought the music to full-blooded life’. The same article referred to him as ‘one of the most brilliant violinists alive’. He was also the soloist in the premičres of Leon Kirchner's Sonata Concertante and David Diamond's Canticle and Perpetual Motion. He taught violin and chamber music at the Juilliard School from 1974 to 1989.
He recorded Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra under Walter Goehr, and Sibelius' Violin Concerto conducted by Tauno Hannikainen. These performances were popular in their time, but he never achieved a real level of sustained international success and his career as a soloist trailed off. He also made the first studio recording of Bartók’s Violin Sonata #2 with Artur Balsam, issued in late 1947 by Concert Hall Society. (The earlier version by the composer accompanying Joseph Szigeti was a live performance, and only issued later.) He recorded the Menotti Violin Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Charles Münch. He made a number of other recordings, mainly of light pieces and encores. In 1970, he was preparing to record the Beethoven violin sonatas with his brother Jascha, when the latter died.
He also composed, and published his own cadenzas to the Beethoven and Mozart concertos. He developed a special bowing technique for the performance of Bach's solo violin suites. Most violinists solved the problems of playing chords by quickly arpeggiating them. Spivakovsky believed that they should be played solidly, as a keyboardist might play them, and solved the problem by developing a new approach to holding the violin and bow. His method was not widely adopted, but it was the subject of a 1949 book, THE SPIVAKOVSKY WAY OF BOWING, by Gaylord Yost.
Tossy Spivakovsky died in 1998 at Westport, Connecticut, aged 91.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron