Volume 91, Issue 69

Friday, January 30, 1998

cheque please


A master of the strings weaves his success

By Nadia Sapiro
Gazette Writer

Western has been graced for many years by the presence of a world famous violinist and concertmaster who teaches many of Canada's foremost musicians. His presence is not limited to the classroom, however. On Sunday at 4 p.m., Londoners will have the opportunity to hear Lorand Fenyves perform Beethoven's "Kreutzer in Von Kuster Hall," at Talbot College.

Fenyves was born in Budapest and as a child found his environment, teachers and parents to be very inspiring. He made his debut in Vienna as a solo concert artist at the age of 13 and in 1936 he left Hungary at the young age of 18.

He admits he had plenty of reason to leave his home. "It was clear that there would be a war... for those far-sighted, it was clear that nothing could stop what was happening."

Fenyves was invited to Palestine where he played violin and became concertmaster for the Palestinian Philharmonic Orchestra (later changing its name to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra). Fenyves was also a founding member of the Israel String Quartet.

He recalls the role that music played in the nation-building which created the State of Israel. "As soon as the music started, it became one of the most important elements in building the country. For the first concert, we played in a large building in Tel Aviv – not even a concert theatre. There were 4,000 people. We then went to Haifa and continued around the country. There was enormous support from the public – everyone was so proud that we were a country of culture and art."

Not only did he use his skill with music to help nation-build, Fenyves and his orchestra volunteered to play for the allied troops in Egypt and Lebanon during World War II. In 1957, Fenyves left Israel and moved to Geneva where he was invited by Ermest Amsermet to play for L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, for which he later became concertmaster.

When two of his Canadian students were returning to Canada in 1966, Fenyves was persuaded to go with them because it was believed that his services were needed there. Also, it was felt that people would be satisfied with the results. "I came for one year to see [the country] and I decided to stay," remarks Fenyves on his stay in Canada for the past 32 years.

Fenyves has played and taught on four continents and has a well-formulated perspective on the creation of the global village and its impact on national cultures.

"There are traditions in every country and before it was not so clear, you could be respected in one part of the world and not in another. Today the world is becoming smaller and smaller and the particularity of a culture is getting neglected. That is why it is important in Canada that culture is being protected and that this country has the idea that multiculturalism will be our salvation, instead of every culture changing to become one culture."

Fenyves has recorded for Decca, London Records, Guilde du Desque, Sayo, Musical Heritage Society, RCA and CBC labels. As well as teaching at Western, Fenyves currently teaches at the University of Toronto, the Banff Centre for the Arts and gives international master classes around the world.

"It is important who knows you and who wants to know you," claims Fenyves in reference to his early rise experiences. "Today it is simply that there are more people who are very good – it is the nature of the beast of free enterprise. But I am worried that some of the values will be left behind and the young talent is not given the opportunities," he says.

"We should take care that the talented and dedicated people get the opportunity to play and learn. Priorities should be how to build a future for the young people – and not only in this country."

Along with the Sunday show, Fenyves and pianist Avner Arad will perform a recital of sonatas by Beethoven, Schubert, Janacek and Debussy tomorrow at 8 p.m..

Interested? Don't fiddle around! The first person to pull the right strings at 2:30 p.m. at The Gazette office in Rm. 263 of the UCC, will win a pair of tickets to see Fenyves perform this weekend.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998