Carl Flesch

Real Name:
Flesch Károly
Profile:
Carl Flesch (9 Oct 1873—14 Nov 1944) was a prominent Hungarian violinist and music educator—one of the most coveted tutors during his lifetime and author to numerous essential guidebooks, such as 'Die Kunst desseveralels' (The Art of Violin Playing, 1923) or 'Das Skalensystem' (Scale System, 1926). Flesch revolutionized many fundamentals in training methodology and firmly re-established violin players as full-range artists—rather than merely technical virtuosi as generally perceived before—in contemporary classical music.

Flesch was born in Moson (now Mosonmagyaróvár), a small town in northwestern Hungary, nearby the Austrian and Slovakian borders. He began playing violin at the age of 6-7yrs, continuing his formal training at Vienna Conservatory (1886–'89) under Jakob Grün, and subsequently with Eugène Sauzay and Martin Pierre Marsick at Conservatoire de Paris (1890–'94). Even though academia soon became Flesch's main focus, Carl continued to perform extensively, both as a solo recitalist and in various ensemble settings, for over 48 years. He toured solo all across Europe, as well as abroad—in Russia (1908) and the United States in 1914, where Flesch made a few "diamond disc" recordings for Edison Records. Some highlights of his on-stage career included playing in Schnabel Trio, which gained prominence in the 1920s as one of the leading European chamber ensembles, with pianist Artur Schnabel and cellist Jean Gérardy (later Hugo Becker).

From 1897 till 1902, Carl Flesch served as a violin professor at Conservatorul de Muzică in Bucharest—his first academic position—appointed as a court musician by Queen Elisabeth of Romania during his stay. Flesch taught as a professor at Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck's Conservatory (from 1903 until 1908) in Amsterdam; next, his family moved to Berlin. In 1924, Carl Flesch relocated to North America, joining a newly-established Curtis Institute Of Music in Philadelphia as head of the violin studies. During his tenure at Curtis, Flesch played 1st violin in the Curtis Quartet, co-founded with fellow faculty members Emanuel Zetlin (2nd violin), Louis Bailly (viola), and Felix Salmond (cello). In Summer 1926, during one of the Flesch's family typical vacations in Germany, he bought a villa in Baden-Baden.

In 1928, Carl Flesch moved back to Europe. He worked as an associate professor at Berlin's Hochschule für Musik half-a-year, spending summers in Baden-Baden (organizing violin courses there). Flesch received German citizenship in 1930 (still keeping his Hungarian passport).

As the Nazi regime rose to power, German authorities condemned Carl Flesch as a Jew, and Berlin Conservatory fired him in Sept 1934. One of Carl's closest friends in Germany, the nation's leading conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, repeatedly wrote to Adolf Hitler to revert this decision. Maestro called to "make an exception [to law] in this difficult case," as expelling Flesch would further increase Germany's already catastrophic cultural isolation. Despite this, in June 1935, the Third Reich further revoked the Flesch family's German citizenships—forcing them to fly from Baden-Baden to London. In 1939, Carl made some concert arrangements in the Netherlands, so the couple settled in The Hague.

In May 1940, when Nazi troops occupied Dutch territory, Carl Flesch unsuccessfully tried to return to the USA but couldn't get visas. He lost Hungarian citizenship in 1942, and Gestapo arrested Flesch and his wife several times; he had to wear the yellow badge now, banned from performing or teaching anywhere. Since Furtwängler never gave up on his friend and kept bombarding Hitler's apparatus with letters, Flesch got released from prison. Simultaneously, Géza de Kresz and Ernst von Dohnányi pressured Hungarian authorities to reinstate Flesch's passport, so in Dec 1942, Carl and his wife returned to Budapest.

Flesch spent the rest of his life in Switzerland, leading master classes at Lucerne Conservatory on Ernest Ansermet's invitation, and passed away at 71.

Carl Flesch International Violin Competition (1945–1992, London)
Initially organized by the artist's son Carl F. Flesch and one of his former students, Max Rostal, this bi-annual concourse became part of the City of London Festival since 1968. At its peak, 'Carl Flesch Medal' was among the most desirable and prestigious prizes for young violinists (and later, viola players) in the world.

Károly Flesch International Violin Competition (1985–2018, Mosonmagyaróvár)
Titled "Flesch Károly Nemzetközi Hegedűverseny" in Hungarian, this bi-annual event took place in Flesch's hometown (where his remnants are, in the family grave). It began as a "stepping stone" for aspiring Hungarian violinists, where they could've prepared for the prestigious London concourse. Since 1993, however, Károly Flesch Competition became international and essentially replaced the "main" event.

Prominent students
Charles Barkel, Edwin Bélanger, Bronislaw Gimpel, Ivry Gitlis, Szymon Goldberg, Ida Haendel, Josef Hassid, Ginette Neveu, Yfrah Neaman, Ricardo Odnoposoff, Eric Rosenblith, Max Rostal, Henryk Szeryng, Roman Totenberg, Josef Wolfsthal, Janine Andrade, Josef Gingold, Corrado Romano, Tibor Varga, Nicolae Buică, Jan Dahmen, Norbert Brainin, Stefan Frenkel, Bruno Straumann, Aida Stucki, Louis Krasner (consulted Flesch over technical difficulties before premiering Alban Berg's 1935 'Violin Concerto'), Henri Temianka (one of Flesch's favorite pupils; he later wrote, "there was above all Temianka, who did great credit to Curtis Institute: both musically and technically, he possessed a model collection of talents.")

Instruments
Carl Flesch played and owned at least a dozen antique violins over his career, most notably:

𝄞 1725 "Brancaccio" by Antonio Stradivari
(Acquired in 1906 for his 33rd birthday, and sold in 1931, in the aftermath of the infamous N.Y. Stock Exchange crash, to Franz von Mendelssohn, wealthy German art collector and amateur musician; destroyed in the WWII bombings of Berlin.)
𝄞 1757 "Pietro Guarneri"
𝄞 1745 "Lorenzo Guadagnini"
Sites:
Variations:
[a1422861]

Artist

Albums

OPK-2005 Carl Flesch - Poème - Violin Sonatas album art Georges Enesco* / Carl Flesch Georges Enesco* / Carl Flesch - Poème - Violin Sonatas(CD) Opus Kura OPK-2005 Japan 2002 Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

SET X-90 Carl Flesch - Concerto In D Minor album art Joseph Szigeti And Carl Flesch, Johann Sebastian Bach, Walter Goehr Joseph Szigeti And Carl Flesch, Johann Sebastian Bach, Walter Goehr - Concerto In D Minor(2xShellac, 12") Columbia SET X-90 US Unknown Sell This Version
MX 90-1 Carl Flesch - Concerto In D Minor album art Joseph Szigeti And Carl Flesch Joseph Szigeti And Carl Flesch - Concerto In D Minor(Shellac, 12") Columbia MX 90-1 US Unknown Sell This Version
L.X. 660 Carl Flesch - Concerto In D Minor album art Joseph Szigeti And Carl Flesch Joseph Szigeti And Carl Flesch - Concerto In D Minor(Shellac, 12") Columbia L.X. 660 UK Unknown Sell This Version
L.X. 659 Carl Flesch - Concerto In D Minor album art Joseph Szigeti And Carl Flesch Joseph Szigeti And Carl Flesch - Concerto In D Minor(Shellac, 12") Columbia L.X. 659 UK Unknown Sell This Version
MX 90-2, MX 90-3 Carl Flesch - Concerto In D Minor album art Joseph Szigeti And Carl Flesch Joseph Szigeti And Carl Flesch - Concerto In D Minor(Shellac, 12") Columbia, Columbia MX 90-2, MX 90-3 US Unknown Sell This Version

Compilations

М10 45401 009 Carl Flesch - Скрипка album art Карл Флеш* Скрипка(LP, Comp, Mono) Мелодия М10 45401 009 USSR 1983 Sell This Version
LAB 045 Carl Flesch - The HMV Recordings album art Jenő Hubay, Carl Flesch Jenő Hubay, Carl Flesch - The HMV Recordings(CD, Comp, RM) Biddulph Recordings LAB 045 UK 1991 Sell This Version
1C 053-01 364 M Carl Flesch - Mozart: Violinkonzert Nr. 4 D-dur Kv 218 / Bach: Doppelkonzert album art Mozart*, Bach*, The London Philharmonic Orchestra, Joseph Szigeti, Carl Flesch, Sir Thomas Beecham, Walter Goehr Mozart*, Bach*, The London Philharmonic Orchestra, Joseph Szigeti, Carl Flesch, Sir Thomas Beecham, Walter Goehr - Mozart: Violinkonzert Nr. 4 D-dur Kv 218 / Bach: Doppelkonzert(LP, Comp) Dacapo (2) 1C 053-01 364 M Germany Unknown Sell This Version

Miscellaneous

82063 Carl Flesch - Ave Maria / Explanatory Talk album art Carl Flesch / Harry E. Humphrey Carl Flesch / Harry E. Humphrey - Ave Maria / Explanatory Talk Edison Records 82063 US 1915 Sell This Version
82313 Carl Flesch - Serenade / Caprice album art Carl Flesch Serenade / Caprice(Edison Disc) Edison Records 82313 US 1924 Sell This Version
82330 Carl Flesch - Midnight Bells / Viennese Melody album art Carl Flesch Midnight Bells / Viennese Melody(Edison Disc) Edison Records 82330 US 1924 Sell This Version
80902 Carl Flesch - Frasquita / Paradise album art Carl Flesch Frasquita / Paradise(Edison Disc) Edison Records 80902 US 1928 Sell This Version