Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
August 23
Did You Guess?
The highest string on a viola is the A string.  The next lowest is the D, then comes the G, and finally the lowest string is the C string. The viola is tuned a fifth below the violin.
    What Else

1853 - Joseph Franz Wagner, Austrian bandmaster, was born in Vienna.  He became known as the Austrian March King.

1906 - First performance of Ralph Vaughan-Williams' Norfolk Rhapsody, in London.

1934 - The Berkshire Symphonic Festival in founded in Stockbridge, MA. by American composer and conductor Henry Hadley, with the participation of the New York Philharmonic; The Festival later became associated with the Boston Symphony.

1962 - Irving Fine, American composer, died in Boston.

1964 - First performance of Igor Stravinsky's Abraham and Isaac. It was dedicated to the people of Israel by the Israel Festival Orchestra conducted by Robert Craft in Jerusalem.

1966 - The Beatles' movie Help! premiered in the U.S.

1993 - Duran Duran received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
While still young Primrose heard violinists such as Eugene Ysa’e, Jan Kubelik, Mischa Elman, Fritz Kreisler, and Josef Szigeti.  He also heard the London String Quartet, which he would become a member of years later.

In 1919, William and his family moved to London where he had received a scholarship to attend the Guildhall School of Music.  He began to study violin under Max Mossel. Although he received a gold medal, the Guildhall's highest honor, at his 1924 graduation, but was not inspired by the theory classes there.  (Years later he realized that he really should have put more effort into his studies at Guildhall.)  What he could do, though, was continue going to performances by the likes of Fritz Kreisler, Jascha Heifetz, Toscha Seidel, Vąsa Prķhoda, and Pablo Casals.

Upon graduation Primrose became a professional violinist, but after just two years he became disillusioned.   Primrose travelled to Belgium to study under the aging violin virtuoso Eugene Ysa’e. Ysa’e provided Primrose wiith new motivation helped him improve his technique.  Another change resulted from William's time with the master.

As a child Primrose had been fascinated with the viola, and as a young man, had secretly played his father's viola and had discovered that he preferred its sound to that of the violin. After three years of study under Ysa’e, Primrose, with his mentor's encouragement, decided to switch to the viola.

Primrose made the move from violin to viola in March, 1930, when he became the violist of the London String Quartet. "Joining the LSQ marked a demarcation line for me," he wrote. "I had become a violist full-fledged. I had burned all my bridges. I had walked the Damascus road, seen the light, repented of past transgressions, and turned to the viola."

Primrose became one of the world's premiere violists.  He was a member of the NBC Symphony, played with numerous chamber ensembles, and had an outstanding solo career. Primrose taught at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, at the University of Southern California (with Heifetz and Piatigorsky) at Indiana University and was in residence at the Tokyo University of Fine arts and Music.  He taught at the Juilliard School of Music and at Eastman.  In addition he wrote several books including
The Art and Practice of Scale Playing and Technique is Memory.  His autobiography is called Walk on the North Side: Memoirs of a Violist.

In recognition of his musical achievements, Queen Elizabeth II granted Primrose the title of Commander of the British Empire.

William Primrose died May 1, 1982 in Provo, Utah.

Click Here for an Inspiring Story About William Primrose.
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William Primrose was born August 23,1903 in Glasgow.

Primrose's father, John, taught violin and played in the Scottish Orchestra.  He bought William a 1/4 size violin when William was about four.  John eventually arranged for William to study with Camillo Ritter, an Austrian national who had studied under Joseph Joachim.
William Primrose
"Willie" progressed rapidly under Ritter's instruction.  The picture at the left is Primrose at age 12 at his first public performance.  (He played Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto.) He performed at the local Congregational Church, at local schools, and at Glasgow's Palette Club.
Can You Guess?
We know that the violin is the treble (or highest) member of the string family.  The violin's strings are E, A, D and G.  We also know that the viola is the next lowest member of the family. 
Can You Guess what the strings of a viola are tuned to?

Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
Playing the Viola: Conversations With William Primrose
Violist William Primrose
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