“...My cradle rocked in Hungary. The small settlements where my father worked as a painter and decorator is called Veszprém. I was brought up with a milk bottle and a violin according to the traditions of my home land…”
The Veszprém-born Lipót Auer (1845–1930) was a significant character of music world as a famous concert violinist, conductor and as a violin professor. Europe, Russia and the United States are equally proud of the Hungarian musician. This son of Veszprém became the solo violinist at the court of the Russian Tzar, a state official with noble rank, a professor at the Saint Petersburg Conservatoire and the Director and Conductor of the Russian Music Society within a few decades. Countries, kings and sultans competed to hear him play. He was awarded various medals including the Meiningen Cross, the Cross of the French Legion of Honor and the Saint Vladimir Honors.
When he moved to Saint Petersburg he took over the Violin Department of the Conservatoire from Wieniawski. Auer is the founder of the method recognized as well as admired as the ‘Russian Violin School’ today and which has started an unprecedented series of successes. All the significant Russian violinists regard themselves as Auer’s students as his pedagogy has been passed on from teacher to student for a hundred years now… When Auer was travelling to the major cities of Europe he was followed everywhere by a group of young violinists, waiting to learn from a captured moment potentially more than they had done for years before. Can there be more to a master and students relationship than that?
The influential artist
Auer’s personality impressed his contemporaries wherever he worked. In Russia he became the Tzar’s Solo Violinist and a state official of noble rank. In Paris he earned the Cross of the Legion of Honor and was also good friends with Eugene Napoleon, the son of the exiled emperor. The Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II, just like Oscar The King of Sweden were passionate to hear him play. The Prince of Wales as well as Gladstone, Prime Minister of England, considered it an honor to meet Auer. After the revolution in Russia the United States welcomed him with open arms: he became the professor of the world’s top art schools, as the Juilliard Graduate School of Music (New York) and the Curtis Institute (Philadelphia). He had concerts in the Carnegie Hall even at the age of 80. The most prestigious composers and instrumental artists of the time, such as Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein, Sarasate, Rimsky-Korsakov, Franz Liszt and Sergey Rachmaninov were proud of his friendship. Several world famous artists were taught by him, including Mischa Elman, Jascha Heifetz, Nathan Milstein and Efrem Zimbalist, and we could easily continue the long list of violin virtuosos.
Auer was an artist and a teacher, Christian and Jewish, Russian and American at the same time. And of course Hungarian as he put it:
“The identity of every artist is decided by their home soil.”