JOSEPH ACHRON was born in Lodzeye, a small town in former Russian- Poland (now Lithuania) on May 1, 1886. His musical precocity was unparalleled. At the age of two he was already receiving violin instruction from his father, upon an instrument which his father had expressly constructed for him; and his ear was already so sensitive that it could readily distinguish the right pitch from the wrong. At the age of two and a half, Joseph composed his first melody, with a surprisingly complicated rhythmic design. It was quite apparent that the boy was born for music; and, wisely enough, his parents decided from the very first to train him for a musical career.
At the age of five, he began to study violin seriously under Michaelowitsch in Warsaw, and then with Isidor Lotto, acquiring sufficient proficiency at the end of three years to be able to make his first public appearance. His success was emphatic. An extended concert-tour followed, culminating with a private performance at the Imperial Palace before Czar Nicholas II and the Dowager Czarina Maria; Joseph Achron was now definitely established as one of the most amazing violin-prodigies of his day. After these concerts, the Achrons returned to Warsaw where Joseph entered the Imperial Conservatory to devote himself more seriously than ever to music, studying violin under the celebrated Leopold Auer, and composition under Liadov. It was at the Conservatory that it first became apparent to him that his life-work would be composition rather than the playing of the violin. During one of the harmony-lessons, Achron showed Liadov a prelude he had just composed in which he consciously committed that first deadly sin of harmony of writing "consecutive fifths" for the sake of a certain effect he was trying to attain. Liadov, usually a martinet where harmonic rules were
concerned, smiled at this rebellious gesture on the part of his young pupil, and said: "If you will write on your examination in harmony a prelude as good as this, you will receive the highest mark in spite of the 'parallel fifths'!"
It was Liadov who encouraged the boy to become a composer, and Joseph, reassured, created prolifically. Some of these works, Achron soon afterwards showed to Glazunov, the famous Russian composer, who found that, altho some of the smaller pieces possessed talent, this music was for the most part technically deficient. Glazunov, therefore, urged Achron to curb his fecundity until he had completed a rigorous study of theory and composition. Achron followed Glazunov's advice and from 1907 to 1910 he studied counterpoint, canon, fugue and form. After he had completed these studies, he resumed his concert-work in order to support himself, and began to compose with greater intensity than ever. It was at this time that he composed his first prominent work, a violin sonata. "The first sonata," was the verdict of V. Karatigin, "despite the relative simpli____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Composers of Today:A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations. Contributors: David Ewen - Editor, David Ewen - Compiler. Publisher: H. W. Wilson. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1934. Page number: 1.
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