The Russian school of violin playing


ImageThe Russian school (later the Soviet school) of musicians formed a dominant force in classical music through the 20th century. From the studios of Leopold Auer in St Petersburg, Piotr Stolyarsky in Odessa, and Abram Yampolsky and Konstantin  Mostras in Moscow came great artists such as Elman, Heifetz, Milstein, Oistrakh, Kogan and many others. These iconic violinists had a profound impact on later generations worldwide.

After the 1917 revolution, the centre of Russian violin playing and teaching gradually shifted from St Petersburg to Moscow. The state recognised in the arts a powerful opportunity to command supremacy on the world stage, and in the 1930s Soviet authorities established special music schools throughout the republics where young musicians pursued aggressive professional training. This included lessons twice a week and a comprehensive, standardised regimen of studies and repertoire.

The most gifted students were advanced to the Moscow Conservatoire. International competitions were often dominated by the USSR, and it wasn't unusual for a contest to award half or more of its prizes to Soviet violinists.

Yuri Yankelevich became one of the most important teachers in Moscow during the second half of the century and his impressive studio boasted medals in virtually every major international competition. Yankelevich served as teaching assistant to Yampolsky before joining the faculty of the Moscow Conservatoire in 1936. He was known for stressing posture, fluid shifting, ease, and expressive freedom. His book Pedagogicheskoe Nasledie (Pedagogical Legacy) is a testament to his systematic and analytical approach. Shkolnikova helped pass on the principles of his teaching to generations of students.

[Source: The Strad, September 2010, Article written by Curt Thompson]

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