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.

1 comment:

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, my gosh! I would love to be a fly on the wall if he were around for you to talk with him again. Arnold Rose gets mentioned many times in Robert Philip's Performing Music in the Age of Recording and when I start buying CDs based on that book, I'll be looking for recordings by the Rose Quartet.