Friday, February 08, 2019

Jack Benny's Bow Arm

I like to share videos of Jack Benny with my students so that they can observe his beautiful bow arm, and so that they can understand that being able to "play" at being a "lousy" violinist takes a great amount of technique.

I love this performance of the Bach Double that he does with Isaac Stern because he knows how to play with questionable taste (articulation, intonation, rhythm, sound quality) while still playing the violin extremely well. I enjoy the points where Benny lapses into good musicianship.



And just look at his bow arm:



I do with I could hear a recording of him playing in a non-comedic situations. If there were recordings it would probably have been worth his while (for professional reasons) to keep them private.

Jack Benny (née Benjamin Kubelsky) was born in Waukegan, Illinois. The Waukegan Historical Society has an excellent timeline that details events in his life. There is an excellent Wikipedia article about him that mentions Otto Graham Sr. as his teacher. I imagine that Benny must have learned that bow arm from Graham.

I recall either reading or watching an interview with the 70-something Jack Benny where he talked about his love of chamber music and about how he spent his time practicing the violin. I wish I could find it somewhere!

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