Ferenc Vecsey

March 23, 1893. Budapest – April 5­, 1935. Rome
Vecsey Ferenc (Fotó: Zeneakadémia képgyűjteménye)
Vecsey Ferenc
(Fotó: Zeneakadémia
Ferenc Vecsey was a representative of the first generation of child prodigies who attracted great attention world-wide after graduating in Jenő Hubay's class at the Academy of Music at the beginning of the twentieth century. He had the brightest career among them and belonged to the most popular „world brands" of Hungarian performing art. His figure was surrounded by legends in his lifetime already and many unjustified and contradictory rumors have been published about him making his personality even more mysterious for the posterity. Familiarization with and informed assessment of his life and work has only been possible since Miklós Rakos has processed the artist's bequest from Italy, recently.
The first violin teacher of Ferenc Vecsey was his father, Lajos Vecsey who -being an officer- was also a trained musician since he had been a classmate of Jenő Hubay at the Nemzeti Zenede [Music Secondary School]. At age five his son received his first lessons from him, and two years later Hubay taught him privately, while from 1901 he became a student of him officially, too, at the Academy of Music. The first known appearance of Vecsey was in the summer of 1899 at Tátraszéplak then he attracted attention in Budapest by his performances. The foreign debut of the hardly ten years-old child - already a mature artist - was made in October 1903 in Berlin which made his name recognized world-wide at once. He had a dozen performances in Germany within a month, played for Caesar Wilhelm and his wife in Potsdam, and the touched and eulogistic words of Joseph Joachim, which the press widely echoed, contributed to extraordinary successes of his career: ‘I cannot find words... I have been living 72 years without that I would have ever given credit to such a miracle, which I myself witnessed just now...'  For the sake of success his impresario advertised him as a student of Joachim but that hardly met the truth.
By Vecsey's Berlin debut a career began at a dizzying pace. Russian, German and English tours followed from 1904 and he arrived to the United States on his triumphal tour at the beginning of 1905, as well (his Carnegie Hall debut took place on January 10). On his tour to Iberia in the spring of 1906 his performing partner was Béla Bartók at the piano. He gave hundreds of concerts world-wide in a few years while in the intervals of his tours he continued studying with his master. Between his frequent tours (he went to South America as well in 1911 and 1913) his main residence was in Berlin from 1907, where he received education in harmony and counterpoint with Paul Juon, the composition professor of the college, then he also started to compose. He wrote short virtuosic character pieces for himself primarily. The Valse triste achieved the greatest success among them, which other renowned artists also included in their programs.
Vecsey the first real world-star of violin was a representative of a new era in the history of performing arts when business and professionally implemented sensation-making gradually came into view at concertizing. At the same time, his style amalgamating unsurpassed virtuosity and deep empathy with noble elegance perpetuated the tradition of the vanished, heroic era of the virtuosos, as well. Romantic virtuoso character pieces and concertos were at the centre of his repertoire (he played an important role in the popularization of Sibelius' Violin Concerto) and his sonata concerts with Dohnányi are also memorable (1909, 1916-17).
Following his childhood Vecsey spent little time in his homeland. He performed Violin Concerto No.3 of Hubay at the inauguration of the new building of the Academy of Music in May of 1907, and appeared several times a year in Hungary until the end of World War I. He spent the last one and a half decade of his life away from his home country, returning home only at the occasions of his benefit tour in 1926 and concerts in the following year in Budapest. However he always declared himself Hungarian abroad and insisted on indicating Ferenc as his given name. He settled in Italy, in Perugia and then lived in Venice. He performed less frequently at that time but played regularly and at a high standard all the time. He spent more time on reading and having rest, studied the teachings of Buddhism with interest without becoming a Buddhist. He died unexpectedly at the height of his powers at the age of 42.
G. L.


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