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Not even Professor Auer knew it all

November 1, 2008 |  7:45 am

Shternblog_4In my story about Abram Shtern, a little-known but extraordinary violin teacher living in West Hollywood, I noted that among history's violin pedagogues, the most famous was Leopold Auer (1845-1930). What got cut for reasons of space, however, is that not even Auer was infallible.

One reason? He pronounced Tchaikovsky's 1878 Violin Concerto, which was originally dedicated to him, unplayable. (As a result, the composer rededicated it to Adolph Brodsky.) Today, of course, the concerto is a mainstay of the standard repertoire.

Ironically, though, Auer was in part responsible for the work's popularity, because he taught it to all his concertizing students. Now, every serious violin student must learn it, and it is a must at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. And as it happens, Shtern taught it to a number of Tchaikovsky competition winners, including Ilya Grubert and Ilya Kaler.

-- Constance Meyer

Photo credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

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