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The 1989 November issue of The Strad included a profile of Maestro Ricci, written by Hannah Hanani.

On page 948, the following information is given about his teacher Georg Kulenkampff: Kulenkampff was quite the opposite of Kreisler, of the real German school and a technique more like piano technique. The colours are different, there is no glissando, no schmaltz. I find this comment both fascinating and vexing. Did Kulenkampff, whose own recordings reveal an unusually large amount of portamento in music of all composers including Mozart and Beethoven, not allow his pupils the use of audible slides? Considering his musical background, I have noticed a surprising absence of portamento in melodic sections in Maestro Riccis playing, when compared to the style of fellow star-pupils in Persingers class such as Bustabo or Menuhin. Where did this attitude to portamento come from? Did it perhaps originate from lessons and knowledge gained with Kulenkampff, or was it Maestro Riccis own decision later on to avoid the use of slides as an expressive device, at a time when the use of portamento was yet generally unquestioned? Professor Hartmut Lindemann, Cologne, Germany Kulenkampff, being of the German school, used position changes rather than slides from underneath the note. For example, he would slide with the first finger most of the way and then put down the third finger he didnt put down the third finger before the note. This is in contrast to the Russians, who would go from underneath. For example, the Russians would put the finger down underneath the note and then go up to the note. When I was young, I had an idea that I wanted to be a very clean player and avoid portamento. So I didnt do any slides. I tried to play like a piano. Later on, I used the slide because the slide provides an advantage if you want to emphasize a note you can emphasise a note better if you slide underneath it a little bit. However, sliding is a dangerous privilege. A slide can easily become a smear, which is bad taste. I dont like fiddle players that smear around too much. You can play without slides but once you put them in, you have to be careful how you use them. You should only use the slide to emphasise a note. Kreisler made good slides. I liked his taste. When he got older, his playing got a little bit too sweet but then again, he was a very sweet guy. How did Paganini, according to your research, manage to move from high positions to low positions on the instrument so that his violin was kept in its position, given the posture Paganini used according to iconography? Hans Poland, Berlin, Germany The short answer is that Paganini would go from a high position to a low position without moving his arm. He would keep his thumb fixed, so that the fingers of his left hand would then be extended both in front of as well as behind the fixed thumb. I discuss this concept in more depth in chapter one of my recent book, Ricci on Glissando, published by Indiana University Press. Also, you may want to refer to an article I wrote for the October 2004 issue of The Strad, which also explains the general concept. With left-hand pizzicato, plucking 0, 1, 2 finger notes comes out strong and clear, but the third finger plucked with the fourth is hardly audible, for example in the first page of Paganinis God Save the King and the last page of La ronde de lutins. R. de Lima, UK

The shorter the distance between the finger that is down and the finger doing the plucking, the more difficult the pizzicato will be. The most difficult is when the fourth finger has to pluck with the third finger down. The reason is that the string length between the third finger and the fourth finger is very short. By contrast, theres a lot more string length between the first finger and the fourth finger, which is why the string is more flexible and easier to pluck. In Sevcik Book Four, I think there is a whole page of pizzicato etudes that I highly recommend. That was a very good page. I used to know that page from memory. In fact, I still do. Also, there are some good pizzicato exercises in my first book, Left-Hand Violin Technique, published by Schirmer. I studied with Paul Stassevitch in Chicago and I recall his telling me how he enjoyed Mr Ricci as a young student. Could he elaborate on his experiences with Mr Stassevitch? Edward Filmanowicz, Wisconsin, USA I studied with Stassevitch for about three years and he was a very helpful teacher. He didnt demonstrate on the fiddle, but he was a very good pianist and used to quote things on the piano not just violin music. He went out of his way to give me a musical education and I learned about music in general not just the violin from him. Do you still practise? I remember your 80th birthday concert at the Wigmore Hall ten years ago I was so impressed! I will never forget that concert. I am a performer and teacher myself and I say to my students: if you are 5 years old, you repeat the difficult bit 5 times; if you are 50 years, 50 times. It would be inspiring to find out about you: 90 times... or more? Anete Graudina, London, UK No, I dont practise anymore. Unfortunately, I cant even hold the violin. But I still like to teach. I have very fond memories of playing at the Wigmore Hall. It was always a very good audience a very special public. At my final Wigmore Hall concert, I remember having food poisoning. My concert was on a Sunday and from Friday until Sunday, I couldnt pick up the violin. I couldnt cancel the concert because it was completely sold out. So I had to walk out and play without having practised. I told the public that I had been sick and wasnt able to practice the programme at all. I didnt want to send them home with nothing but I didnt have the strength to play two whole Bach Sonatas as indicated in the programme. So I just played the Praeludium from no.6 and then one complete sonata. Afterwards, the management had planned a big party with food and drink to celebrate my final performance at the Wigmore but instead I was rushed straight to the hospital. I remember when I got to the hospital the doctor said, I know you. I asked How do you know me? and he said I took out your gallbladder! As far as repetition, its not important how many times you repeat a passage because you are probably repeating the mistake. What is important is to find which part of the passage has the mistake probably on a shift and then to practise it slowly. When you are learning, you cant correct intonation at high speed only slow.