Friday, February 08, 2008
Degree of Separation
One summer day in the very early 1980s I went with a friend to a place called "Hatch Lake" in upstate New York. We stayed with an old friend of his family who was a violinist--or had been a violinist. I remember staying up very late talking with this wonderful man about violin playing, about Vienna (where I had lived for a while), about practicing, music, and the violin repertoire was one of the first beams of light that illuminated my inner violinist's soul (I was a flutist at the time) and led me on what I consider my path to true musical happiness.
I have been trying to remember the name of this wonderful man for years. I would do periodic Google searches for "Hatch Lake" and "violinist," hoping in vain that I would find something.
Yesterday, while reading Anne Mischakoff-Heiles' excellent new book America's Concertmasters, a must-read for anyone interested in the violin, orchestras, and orchestral music, I came across this picture of Felix Eyle (c. 1899-1988). After admiring it for a while, and after reading a story he told about a horse, I realized that he was the man I had been looking for.
If I only knew then what I know now, the questions I could have asked him! I could have asked about studying with Arnold Rose. I could have asked him about Mahler. I could have asked to see his instrument (the one pictured here), a Guadagnini violin that belonged to Arnold Rose's daughter Alma. I could even have asked about his years as concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. I was such an innocent young person, and he was so kind to me. If he were alive today I could tell him that talking with him that night was one of the experiences that inspired me to play the violin. Maybe he knew.