Obituary: Andre Gertler

THE EMINENT Hungarian-born violinist Andre Gertler was part of a link stretching back through only one intermediary teacher to another celebrated Hungarian, the violinist Joseph Joachim, and through him directly to Felix Mendelssohn. Remarkably the lives of Joachim and Gertler actually overlapped for two and a half weeks in July and August 1907, and their joint lives spanned 167 years.

Until Joachim's time leading virtuosi had toured the concert world playing music they had written for themselves, exemplifying their particular technical strengths and to suit their individual styles of playing. One thinks of the Italians Tartini, Viotti and Paganini, and the latter's German-born and German-trained contemporary Ludwig Spohr (better known by the French forename "Louis"), whose 15 violin concertos had far greater currency than Beethoven's solitary masterwork of that genre. With Joachim came the missionary zeal for performing masterworks of great composers, and therein the link with present-day custom - and there besides with Andre Gertler.

It was no less a musician than Mendelssohn who examined the 12-year-old Joachim when the latter sought entry to the Leipzig conservatoire, and who advised against such an academic course in favour of study with Ferninand David, Gewandhaus Konzertmeister and later first performer of Mendelssohn's celebrated concerto. And it was the composer himself, as the orchestra's conductor, who engaged the boy as concert soloist in 1843.

Joachim was to champion the late String Quartets of Beethoven and music by both Schumann and Brahms, of whose Violin Concerto he was the first performer, bringing it from Leipzig to England but three months later. And Joachim's exemplary championship of great music of his time anticipated Gertler of only two violinist-generations later.

That intervening generation was represented by another great Hungarian musician, Jeno Hubay, whose teaching career spanned the years 1882 to 1934. Hubay's glittering galaxy of pupils included such renowned performers as Joseph Szigeti, Franz von Vecsey, Emil Telmnyi, Jelly d'Arnyi, Odon Partos, Sandor Vegh and Stefi Geyer. (Geyer, a Hungarian-born Swiss, was for a time the intimate friend and confidante of Bela Bartk who wrote his early First Violin Concerto for him, subsequently suppressed until after Geyer's death in 1956.) Carl Flesch - also Hungarian - wrote in his memoirs: "Only since Hubay's appointment to the Budapest Academy (1886) can one speak of a specifically Hungarian school." It was this Hungarian School which Gertler joined some 35 years later.

Having been initially a student at the Budapest Academy, Bartk was Professor of Pianoforte from 1907. Although there were professional tensions between conservatively inclined Hubay and the progressively minded Bartk, both he and his music were destined to play a major role in the activities of Gertler.

After studying with Hubay and Zoltn Kodly, Gertler achieved his Budapest Violin Diploma in 1925, later giving many violin and piano recitals with Bartk and learning at first hand the composer's performance intentions for his own music in that genre and for his music in general. This was of course an asset when Gertler moved to Brussels, and in 1931 formed the Gertler Quartet, of which he was leader for 20 years, and played as soloist with leading orchestras internationally. He joined the staff of the Brussels Conservatory in 1940, first as Chamber Music Professor, becoming Professor of Violin a few years later - a post he held until the age of 70.

In 1954 Gertler became Professor at the Cologne Academy of Music for three years. Around this time he became well known in Britain - particularly for his performances of Alban Berg's Violin Concerto - both in the concert hall and for broadcasting. These two outlets came together during the Henry Wood Proms of 1955 when Gertler was soloist in the Berg Concerto, Sir Adrian Boult conducting. Controversy raged over the inclusion of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony for the second time that Proms season. Sir Malcolm Sargent replied for the corporation in the Times that repeating Beethoven's work was to ensure Berg's Concerto had an audience!

It is to Gertler my generation are particularly grateful for opportunities - then all too rare - to hear Berg's Concerto, and for his celebrated recording of that marvellous work, with Polish-born Paul Kletzki conducting the Philharmonic Orchestra. But Gertler by no means confined his concerto playing to the leading metropolitan orchestras. Sir Charles Groves, a firm admirer, described how Gertler travelled tirelessly to teach conductors, and by extension orchestras, the intricacies of Berg and Bartk's concertos, and it was with Groves and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra that he played these works in the later Fifties.

I well remember when visiting Bournemouth for a premiere of my own music in 1961, the excitement with which the orchestra's principal clarinettist talked of Gertler and the Berg Concerto - the kind of enthusiasm not always found among orchestral players. Gertler returned to play during Constantin Silvestri's conductorship at Bournemouth later on in the decade, and a tape of Bartk's Concerto from the BBC broadcast of November 1964 is in the Wessex Film and Sound Archive at Winchester.

The great strength of Gertler's playing was a passionate commitment to the music he was playing, predominantly 20th-century compositions of which many had received their first performances at his hands. He was married to the Danish pianist Diane Andersen with whom he formed a concert duo. Together they recorded all of Bela Bartk's violin and piano music, and indeed Gertler recorded all Bartk's violin works including those with orchestra. The marriage was not entirely happy, and was eventually dissolved. Gertler spent his last two decades in the companionship of a former pupil, Nila Pierru. He was given high honours in Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Germany and Poland. In Britain he was made Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.

In London, Gertler's foremost pupil is Israeli-born Yossi Zivoni, leader of the Gabrieli String Quartet, soloist and professor at the RNCM in Manchester and the RCM in London. Another former pupil is the Spaniard Augustin Leon Ara (son-in-law of the composer Joaquin Rodrigo), formerly at Brussels Conservatoire, who now teaches in Madrid.

Andre Gertler, violinist and teacher: born Budapest 26 July 1907; founder and leader, Gertler Quartet 1931-51; Professor, Royal Conservatory of Music, Brussels 1940-77; married Diane Andersen (marriage dissolved): died Brussels 23 July 1998.

Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Oscars
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
music
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
film
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
architecture
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower