Former pupils have asked me to talk about the violin school of André GERTLER, my last Maestro. But I think this is something extremely difficult, and Gertler himself considered it to be so when I asked him the same thing. I said, “Maestro, why don’t you write all about this school or methodology, about how to play the violin?” And he always answered: “I don’t think I could synthesize in a few pages what I think about the way to play the violin, because even if I always maintain a common line, each pupil requires a different treatment”. He added to this, in answer to another of my questions, that he didn’t want to make an edition with the fingerings and bowing, for example. of the Sonatas and Partitas for violin solo by BACH. “What I find to be good today, may no longer be good tomorrow because I have found something better.” 

Both answers seemed to me at the time very intelligent, and as the years pass, I continue to believe this. After reading many books on different schools, I think it is impossible to describe in words, without having the pupil in front of me, exactly what we want in each specific case, even if we accompany it with photos. Some will react in one way, and others differently. 

For this reason, please don’t think I will be tempted to “describe” our “school”, methodology or the “way to play”. I would rather talk about the “philosophy” of this school, as I have always done up to the present. And as I write, I realize that all that comes to mind responds to some personal, very personal, beliefs that are the result of having arrived at this stage of my life. I do not want the ideas that I will outline to influence anyone. I don’t pretend to pontificate, but only to make the reader reflect on my words. 

In the first place, I have always differentiated between pupils and disciples. Pupils come, stay for a while and go on, probably having learned a lot, and later carry out their professional life, more or less successfully. However, disciples, and I consider myself a disciple of Gertler, continue in constant evolution but always based on the training we received in inheritance from the school, with each of us contributing something new, due largely to the different problems our pupils have presented to us. 

The teaching of an instrument is something truly exciting and delicate, since the sensitivity of the pupil is constantly in play. The teacher must try to guide the pupil without suppressing or crushing his personality. Assisting him, on the contrary, so that he can progess freely although naturally, within the boundaries set by knowing the different styles (demands in this respect are constantly escalating as the means to acquaint us with other periods also increase.)


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I was about to post an article on the violin schools when I received from my dear and admired friend, the violinist Emilio Mateu, a youtube link that has livened up my days. It is called “The Art of the Violin” and features all the great violinists of recent times, since 1940. With the exception of Fritz Kreisler, I have heard all of them in live performances. 

I had begun to write something about the different schools of the violin, starting with Corelli, Pugnani and Viotti up until the present, but this video has prompted me to take the opposite path. I now find it much more entertaining to follow the line backwards to show how all the nationalist and non-nationalist schools can be traced to the same origin, Giovanni Battista VIOTTI. 

Let’s take an example, the most distant one, geographically speaking. The Russian school, which has yielded such glorious violinists as Heifetz, Milstein, Elman. All of them, I refer to the oldest ones, were students or disciples of Aver, who in turn was a student of Joachim and going even farther back, of Böhm, and Rode, who in turn descends, in terms of the violin, from Viotti. 

The father of the Hungarian school could be Hubay, professor of Szigeti Von Versey (to whom Sibelius dedicated his concerto), of André Gertler, Eugene Ormandy, later a great orchestra conductor, and Hubay himself, a direct descendant of Joachim, Böhm, Rode and Viotti. 

Of the Belgian school, the last and greatest representative is Arthur Grumiaux, an extraordinary musician, violinist and excellent performer of Mozart, who was a student of Alfred Dubois, who like E. Ysaÿe was a disciple of Vieuxtemps, in turn a pupil of de Benoit and thus arriving back to Viotti. 

Viotti was, in addition, the counselor to the bow constructor Tourte who gave today’s bow its definitive form. 

In my case, my maestros were my father, Agustin Leon Villaverde, who studied with Fernandez Bordas, himself a student of Monasterio, de Bériot, Rode and Viotti. And in another branch, Fernandez Bordas – Sarasate, Allard, Habenek, Baillot, Rode and Viotti, Albert Sammons, who cannot be attached to any school since he was self-taught, and Gertler. 

This family tree was drawn up by a student, Elisabet Batallé, whose final year project was entitled “From Agustin Leon Ara to Corelli”. You can judge for yourselves and you will see that in all cases, we go back to the same origin, to Viotti and at the same time Corelli. 



arbolgenealogico
I would like to say something about Béla Bartok’s works, since in my opinion, he is one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, and above all because I have performed his entire repertoire for violin and orchestra, violin and piano, violin solo and chamber music, with the exception of the string quartets and the first concerto for violin and orchestra (posthumous), including, however, other works from his youth, which came to light after his death, and thus are classified as posthumous.

This work, in my opinion, is truly brilliant and I think that after J.S. Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas, it is the most interesting and most beautiful piece ever written for this instrument.

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Those who have read the latest articles I have posted will realize I am an authentic “fan” of Béla Bartok. 

I will conclude by speaking about the rest of his works for violin and piano or violin and orchestra. 

The last two sonatas for violin and piano are quite different, one from the other. The first one, particularly the second part, seems to me almost a rhapsody. Very brilliant and virtuoso. The second one I consider to be music that is more abstract and complex.
As I commented in my last posting, there is a third sonata that was posthumous. It is a work from his youth, with a style that is more folklore. It is also a very brilliant work. 

The two rhapsodies, which can be performed in recital either with piano or orchestra, are works which can be compared in form with Ravel’s Tzigane. They are made up of two well differentiated parts and of course are written in a more modern style. These works, as well as Ravel’s Tzigane, are successfully received, although they are not yet so popular. Technically they are very difficult. 

Contrasts, a work dedicated to the famous jazz clarinetist, Benny Goodman and the violinist Joseph Szigeto, at no time escapes from the influence of jazz, with two cadences, one for each instrument, including some experimental curiosities. In the third part, the violinist must play with two violins, tuned differently. One is tuned in G sharp, D, A, E flat, and the other one is tuned as normal. This is not only an effect, but it gives the violin a more popular character, using this “scordatura”. 
The Roumanian Dances (arrangement by Székeli), as well as the Hungarian Dances (arrangement by Orszagh) are actually arrangements of piano works, but which I believe are better played on the violin than on piano solo. It must be remembered that in those countries the violin is as popular as is the guitar in Spain, for example. 

Not to be forgotten is a Sonatina for piano, which André Gertler arranged for violin and piano, with very good criterion.


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