Concertos are sometimes like brides abandoned at the church door by their intended soloists.
Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 was one such work, as was his Violin Concerto. Antonin Dvorák’s Violin Concerto was another. All three have gone on to a place in the concert repertoire.
Augustin Hadelich, winner of several important international prizes, will join the Spokane Symphony this weekend for two performance of Dvorák’s Violin Concerto.
Music Director Eckart Preu will conduct a program that also includes Mozart’s Overture to “Lucio Silla,” György Ligeti’s Concert Romanesc and Brahms’ Symphony No. 3.
Hadelich (pronounced HAH-deh-lick) was born in Italy to German parents and began violin lessons with his father, an amateur cellist, when he was 5.
He grew up on the family farm near Riparbella, south of Pisa. His father took him to hear the Italian violinist Uto Ughi in nearby Siena when the boy was 7. He was hooked.
Hadelich studied on and off with Ughi but went for long periods practicing steadily, without formal instruction, while being home-schooled. He received a performers diploma with highest honors from the Instituto Mascagni in Livorno and studied composition at the Hannes Eisler Academy in Berlin.
When he was 15, Hadelich was badly burned when tractor fuel caught fire on the farm. His career was despaired of, but after surgeries and months of physical therapy, he was able to resume playing.
The American manager Michal Schmidt heard Hadelich play when he was 17 and encouraged him to audition for the Juilliard School. He went to New York and studied with Joel Smirnoff, former violinist in the Juilliard Quartet, now director of the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Smirnoff praised his former student in a New York Times interview last year: “He’s not self-infatuated and a little self-effacing, which is refreshing in today’s world.”
Noting Hadelich’s searching curiosity, Smirnoff concluded, “Augustin can do anything he wants on the fiddle.”
At 22, Hadelich won the first place gold medal at the International Violin Competition in Indianapolis. Three years later he was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant.
His repertoire extends from Bach through Beethoven to Berg and beyond. His recordings include Haydn concertos, Telemann solo fantasias and “Flying Solos,” an album of 20th-century unaccompanied works.
This weekend Hadelich will perform Dvorák’s Concerto, written for the famed 19th-century violinist Joseph Joachim, who had premiered Brahms’ Violin Concerto and championed Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.
Despite Dvorák’s two train trips from Prague to Berlin to consult with Joachim about the concerto, the violinist never played it. Dvorák’s Prague colleague, Frantisek Ondricek, played the first performance of the concerto not only in Prague but later in Vienna and London.
Orchestral works for this weekend’s concerts include the overture to “Lucio Silla,” an opera Mozart wrote when he was only 16, and Ligeti’s Concert Romanesc, a work banned as “decadent” by the communist regime in Budapest when the composer first produced it in 1951. Preu will close the program with Brahms’ Symphony No. 3.
Preu and Hadelich will discuss the music on this weekend’s program in pre-concert talks one hour before each performance.
Hadelich will also give a master class for three local high school students and one from Eastern Washington University on Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. at The Fox. It’s free and open to the public for observation.
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