Sunday, May 20, 2012

Jacob Grun

Jacob Grun (Jakob Maurice Grun) was a Hungarian violinist and teacher born (in Budapest) on March 13, 1837.  When Grun was born, Brahms was 4 years old, Felix Mendelssohn was 28 years old (and already very famous), and Paganini was 54 and would live four more years.  Today, Grun is known as a teacher who had several critically important and famous pupils. He is also known as a very capable concertmaster who spent most of his life and career in Austria.  He first studied with someone named Gustav Ellinger in his hometown.  Later on, his most important teacher was Joseph Bohm at the Vienna Conservatory.  From 1858 to 1861 he played in the Grand Duke’s Royal Band in Weimar.  He was 21 years old.  Then he played in the Royal Band at Hanover (The Queen’s Orchestra) from 1861 to 1865.  Joseph Joachim was the concertmaster of the Hanover orchestra at the time.  Because Grun was not granted a position in the prestigious Court Chamber Orchestra (which would have entitled him to a pension), Joachim resigned his position as concertmaster in protest (together with Grun) in February of 1865.  Grun then embarked on a long concertizing tour of Germany, England, Holland, and Hungary.  Officially, Grun did not qualify for a position in the Chamber Orchestra because he was Jewish.  Joachim, the Chamber Orchestra’s concertmaster, was also Jewish but his situation was viewed somewhat differently because he (like Mendelssohn) had converted to Christianity.  Three years later (1868), Grun was appointed concertmaster of the Vienna Opera Orchestra (aka Vienna Court Opera, very closely tied to the Vienna Philharmonic.)  He was 31 years old.  His Jewishness apparently played no part in that appointment.  In 1877, he began teaching at the Vienna Conservatory, retiring in 1909.  He was 72 years old when he retired from teaching and playing in the Vienna Opera.  It has been said that he was very kind-hearted with his beginning pupils.  Among his students are Carl Flesch, Oskar Back, Oscar Morini, Franz Kneisel, Erica Morini, and Rosa Hochmann.  He played a 1714 Stradivarius which bears his name and which was later owned by Franz Kneisel.  Grun died in obscurity (in Vienna) on October 1, 1916 at age 79.  The First World War had already begun, Claude Debussy had composed Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Richard Strauss had composed Don Juan, Igor Stravinsky had written his Rite of Spring, and Serge Prokofiev was already 25 years old.  

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