LEOPOLD AUER

Leopold Auer was kingmaker among violinists and himself a king. For two generations he was hailed as the supreme teacher of virtuosos. His death marked the closing of an epoch. He taught for forty-seven years at the Imperial Conservatory of Music in Petrograd, and he was "soloist to his majesty" of three Czars. When the Russian revolution smashed everything he had known and loved, he came to New York in his seventy-third year, a penniless exile, who had, in his own words, "cast into discard his entire past, except its memories."

But, although New York is separated from Petrograd by half a world, he found to his delight that it already harbored many of his greatest and most beloved pupils, who had also fled from Russia and who were already idols in the New World. Efrem Zimbalist, Mischa Elman, Jascha Heifetz, Toscha Seidel, and a myriad lesser lights flocked to the lonely old man from whom they had learned their magic in the days of the Czars.

Employing the boundless energy that had always been characteristic of him, he quickly accustomed himself to New York. Though puzzled for a while by the skyscrapers and the rush of traffic, he eventually found the New World to his liking. No sooner had he become an American citizen, in his eightieth year, than he delivered a speech against prohibition.

He had planned to give up teaching, but when future American virtuosos flocked to his door he lacked the heart to turn them away. Soon he became a familiar figure in New York. All musicians grew to love this jolly little man, whose white beard bristled, while his eyes flashed with uncontrollable temperament and his tremendous vitality surrounded him like an aura.

Most of New York's major violinists had studied under Auer at Petrograd. So it is that musicians cannot gather now without sadly discussing

____________________
An earlier version of this essay, entitled "The Teacher of Masters," appeared in the New York Herald Tribune on July 27, 1930.

-9-

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