Konstanty Kulka (Konstanty Andrzej Kulka) is a Polish violinist and teacher born (in Gdansk, Poland) on March 5, 1947. Kulka spends most of his time in Europe, although he has toured around the world, playing with most major orchestras, including the London Symphony, the Concertgebouw, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Chicago Symphony. Kulka has also played at many of the world’s music festivals, including ones in Lucerne, Berlin, Prague, Barcelona, and Warsaw. He began studying violin at age 8 with Ludwig Gbiorczyk. At 24, he graduated from the Stanislaw Moniuszco Academy of Music (Gdansk) in 1971, where his primary teacher was Stefan Herman. He had, however, already started concertizing in 1967. In fact, at age 17, he entered and received first prize at the German International ARD Radio Competition in Munich (in 1964.) He first appeared with the Berlin Philharmonic on February 28, 1982, playing Krzysztof Penderecki’s second violin concerto. He was 34 years old. In 1984, he was appointed violin soloist with the Warsaw Philharmonic. In 1994, Kulka was appointed violin professor at the Frederick Chopin School of Music in Warsaw. As far as I know, he is still teaching there. Kulka has recorded extensively and champions the music of modern Polish composers. Among the standard concertos he has in his discography are the Mozart, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Lalo, Bartok, Prokofiev, Brahms, and Glazunov. In addition, he has recorded for many television and radio programs. Here is a video of his performance of the Mieczyslaw Karlowicz concerto. Karlowicz was a Polish composer who showed great promise but who, unfortunately, died very young (at age 32.) Here is an audio file of the first movement of Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnol. In 1981, Kulka received the Grand Prix du Disque for his recording of both Karol Szymanowski concertos. The Polish government has also bestowed several official honors on Kulka.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Edouard Rappoldi (Eduard Rappoldi) was an Austrian violinist, teacher, conductor, and composer born (in Vienna) on February 21, 1839. He is best known for his teaching and his close association with Joseph Joachim. He began his violin studies at an early age, as do most concert violinists. His first teachers were two violinists I had never heard of until now - Leopold Jansa and a Mr. Doleschall, whose first name eluded me as I was doing my research, such as it was. At only age 7, he made his first public appearance as a violinist and pianist. It has been said that he later became a skilled pianist. At the Vienna Conservatory he studied (1851-1854) with two of the best teachers in the world, Georg Hellmesberger (Sr.) – or possibly Josef (Joseph) Hellmesberger (Sr.) - and Joseph Bohm. From 1854 to 1861, he played violin in the Vienna Court Opera Orchestra, though presumably not as concertmaster. He also toured Europe as a soloist. He was 15 years old when he joined the orchestra and 22 when he left. From 1861 to 1866 he was concertmaster of the Rotterdam German Opera Orchestra. He then became conductor of orchestras (I don’t know which orchestras) - between the years 1866 and 1870 - in Lubeck (in 1866), Stettin (in 1867), and Prague (in 1869), successively. In 1871, at age 32, he was appointed violin teacher at the Royal School of Music in Berlin, which Joachim had helped establish. Joachim was already teaching there. Rappoldi was a member of the Joachim Quartet (as violist) between 1871 and 1877. When Rappoldi joined the quartet, Heinrich De Ahna moved from viola to second violin and after Rappoldi left the quartet, Emmanuel Wirth took his place as violist. De Ahna stayed on second. In 1877, Rappoldi was appointed principal violin instructor at the Dresden Conservatory. He taught there for 15 years. He was also concertmaster of the Dresden Opera during those years but retired from playing in 1898. He was 59 or 60 years old – I don’t know which. One source claims he was also the conductor at the Dresden Opera. Perhaps he was one of the conductors, as opera companies seldom – if ever – hire just one conductor. His compositions include symphonies, quartets, and sonatas. As far as I know, his music is seldom performed now except perhaps in Germany and Austria. One of Rappoldi’s best known and most accomplished pupils was Charles Loeffler, a very influential violinist and composer in the U.S. in the first half of the twentieth century. According to a usually-reliable source, Rappoldi played a 1719 Stradivarius violin now known as the Rappoldi Strad. Rappoldi died (in Dresden) on May 16, 1903, at age 64.