Friday, June 6, 2008

His First Violin


Caesar Thomson Made a Boat of It and Set It Sailing.

When M. Thomson was asked the impression made upon him by his first violin, he replied: "I was so young at the time that I cannot remember. I do remember, though, what I did with it. I made a beautiful boat and set it sailing in a pond. As a result, I was soundly whipped. I was always more enthusiastic over music than over the violin. The orchestra is the greatest violin. To me my instrument is a means of expression and the best I have. I never studied much and received no more lessons after I was 11½ years old.

"Dupuy, my first master, died then, and I received a few lessons from Leonard, who went away from the town in which I lived after the war of 1871. At the age of 15 I went to Italy to play in the orchestra of Prince von der Veis, under the direction of Herr Muller-Berghaus, to whom, through association, I owe much musically. I remained there ten years, and the Italians interested me greatly. It was not music that I studied in Italy, but the plastic arts. It is the art atmosphere there which makes upon one such a profound impression. In the presence of the works of such a man as Da Vinci, architect, sculptor, painter, what are we all? "Having free access to the royal libraries, I studied the old Italian writers for the violin. We walk in a path made by those who have gone before. From justice we must study them. Among other manuscripts that I examined were 40 compositions, hitherto unknown, by Valentini, written for the violin in 1690. I had them copied and in due time will publish them. As far as my technique is concerned, it is not the result of arduous practice, but of concentrated thought. As a small child I studied three hours a day. Now, with four or five minutes I can accomplish with concentration the work of three or four hours.

"Then why practice so much? I study in a scientific manner and do not believe in so much practice. I study the relation of things by mathematics. Through trigonometry, through the study of angles, I accomplish my work. My unfailing technique has been mentioned. That is due to the simple means through Which I obtain it. I hesitate to make my method public, nor do I know when I shall do it. Joachim desired me to, but it will awaken too strong opposition. It is too directly opposed to existing traditions." — New York Commercial Advertiser.

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