Remembering Ida Haendel

The eminent Polish-born violinist Ida Haendel passed away Tuesday at the age of 91.

As a student of Carl Flesch and George Enescu, Haendel represented one of the last direct links to the distinctive and personal violin playing of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As a child prodigy, she was a top prize winner in the first Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition, where she competed against such towering figures as David Oistrakh and Ginette Neveu. During the Second World War, she performed extensively for British and American troops and in pianist Myra Hess’ National Gallery concerts. She was a respected teacher and continued to perform in her later years. (Here is an informal 2009 clip of her playing Paganini’s 24th Caprice effortlessly at the age of 80). She was a passionate champion of the music of twentieth century composers, including Béla Bartók, Benjamin Britten and William Walton.

The searing intensity and soulfulness of Haendel’s playing has been described as a combination of “ice and fire.” Her artistry is on display in these three recordings:

Bloch: Nigun from Baal Shem

Nigun (or “Improvisation”) is from Ernest Bloch’s 1923 suite, Baal Shem: Three Pictures of Hassidic Life. Haendel is accompanied by Gerald Moore in this 1953 recording:

Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 47, III. Allegro ma non tanto

Haendel’s first recording of Sibelius’ Violin Concerto earned her a fan letter from the composer who wrote, “I congratulate you on the great success, but most of all I congratulate myself, that my concerto has found an interpreter of your rare standard.” Here is an excerpt from her later recording with Paavo Berglund and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra:

Enescu: Violin Sonata No. 3 in A minor

George Enescu’s Third Violin Sonata is filled with the exotic, gypsy-inspired sounds of Romanian folk music. The Sonata unfolds in three movements: Moderato malinconicoAndante sostenuto misterioso, and Allegro con brio, ma non troppo mosso. Haendel’s association with Enescu offers a vital link to the past. This recital took place in November, 2009 at the Broward Center For the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Haendel is joined by the Serbian pianist, Misha Dacic.


Photograph by Jelle Pieter de Boer

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

1 thought on “Remembering Ida Haendel”

  1. Ida Haendel should have been made a Dame Commander of the British Empire decades ago. I remember, when I was young, a brilliant live performance of the Beethoven violin concerto. RIP.


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