Ruggiero Ricci;  Charles Reiner  (St Laurent Studio YSL T-1235)
Item# S0817
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Ruggiero Ricci;  Charles Reiner  (St Laurent Studio YSL T-1235)
S0817. RUGGIERO RICCI & CHARLES REINER: Violin Sonata in D, TV 10 (Vivaldi-Respighi); Violin Sonata #26 in B-flat, K.378 (Mozart); 'Kreutzer' Violin Sonata #9 in A (Beethoven). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1235, Live Performance, 19 Aug., 1959, Hart House, Toronto. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.


“Ruggiero Ricci, a virtuoso violinist who first awed audiences at age 10 with his mastery of Mendelssohn and later remade himself into a mature musician whose range reached from the 19th-century acrobatics of Paganini’s Caprices to premiere performances of contemporary works, grew up in San Francisco, the son of an Italian immigrant and amateur trombonist who insisted that all seven of his children learn to play instruments. Mr. Ricci preferred the piano, but his parents had other plans. ‘They bribed me with fiddles’, he told THE NEW YORK TIMES in 1976. ‘I’d wake up in the morning and there would be another one. Once I had five fiddles under my bed’. By 6, Ruggiero was taking lessons from Louis Persinger, who was also teaching another neighborhood prodigy, Yehudi Menuhin. ‘If it weren’t for Menuhin, I wouldn’t be here’, Mr. Ricci said. ‘He is four years older than I am, and he got everyone thinking about prodigies. But believe me, when you find a prodigy, you find an ambitious parent in the background’.

He made his performance debut in San Francisco in 1928, playing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in e minor, and soon toured New York and Europe. Critics raved when he played the Mendelssohn in Manhattan in 1929.

THE TIMES described Ruggiero as 9 years old. He was actually 11, but his promoters shaved two years from his age to make him seem even more precocious. It was not the only way his identity had been manipulated. His parents initially named him Woodrow Wilson Rich but later gave him his Italian-sounding name because it seemed a better fit for a musical prodigy. Throughout his life he was called Roger.

By 1930, after Ruggiero had moved to New York with Mr. Persinger and begun earning substantial pay for performances, he became the center of a highly publicized custody dispute. Years earlier, his father, Pietro Ricci, had given custody of Ruggiero and his younger brother Giorgio to an assistant of Mr. Persinger, Beth Lackey. (Giorgio, named George Washington at birth, went on to become a studio cellist.) At one point the boys ran away from Ms. Lackey, and Pietro Ricci later successfully fought to regain custody of the boys. But his son did not necessarily trust his motives and often said his father was trying to exploit him.

As Ruggiero advanced into his teenage years, some critics suggested that his technical talent was overtaking his interpretive ability. Yet it was at this time that Mr. Ricci began mastering the music that would later help him reinvigorate his career: the 24 Caprices, Paganini’s fiery and daunting works for solo violin. He played the pieces frequently during World War II, alone on stages in front of soldiers while he served as an ‘entertainment specialist’ in the Army Air Forces. After the war he became the first to record the works unaccompanied, in 1947. ‘I forced myself in that direction because nobody had taken that road’, he told THE TIMES. ‘I had to make a comeback’.

In 1963, he performed the premiere of Alberto Ginastera’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, which had commissioned the work for the opening of Lincoln Center that year. He made more than 500 recordings. His last public performance was at the Smithsonian Institution in 2003.”

- William Yardley, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 9 Aug., 2012

“At a young age, Charles Reiner was soloist with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra. After his release from a concentration camp in Austria, Reiner attended the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, and in 1947 received a concert diploma. His teachers were Arpad Hanak, Arnold Szekely, and Bela Böszörmenyi-Nagy. He won the 1948 International Competition for Musical Performers in Geneva and in 1949 was awarded first prize for virtuosity by the Geneva Conservatory, where he had studied with Dinu Lipatti and Louis Hiltbrandt. After performing in various European centres, he won first prize (1950) in a United-Nations-sponsored competition of the International Refugees Organization.

Reiner moved to Montréal in 1951 and that year made his solo recital debut 27 Nov. at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, followed by around 40 concerts for Jeunesses Musicales of Canada. In an impressive career as accompanist he has performed with Henryk Szeryng, Igor Oistrakh, Ruggiero Ricci, Hyman Bress, Antonio Janigro, Arthur LeBlanc, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Richard Verreau, Maureen Forrester, and others. A favourite accompanist of Szeryng over the years, Reiner recorded with him many times, toured South Africa and elsewhere, and played at Carnegie Hall.

Reiner also gave solo recitals in North America, Europe, and South Africa, and appeared innumerable times on radio and TV. He was a founding member of the Canadian Piano Quartet, and of Musica Camerata Montréal in 1971. In 1985 he was invited by the Shanghai Conservatory to teach the complete Beethoven and Brahms sonatas for violin and piano, which he performed with 14 Chinese violinists in five recitals.”