Auer, Leopold. (1845–1930)
Signed CDV Photograph at the age of 16
A very rare early signed carte de visite photograph of the important violinist, dating from 1861, when the sixteen-year-old Auer was beginning his studies with Joseph Joachim. He has signed and inscribed on the verso to Linna Sternberg (a relative of Belgian violinist Hermann Sternberg) and dated Brussels, March 13, 1861. 6.3 x 9.4 cm. Small loss to lower right corner, a few small surface losses to verso, one just touching the first letter of the inscription, else fine. Undoubtedly one of, if not THE, earliest signed photograph of the violinist.
Born in Hungary to a poor family, Leopold Auer began to play the violin as a child, studying in Vienna as a teenager on a scholarship from a wealthy patron in Hungary. When the scholarship money ran out, Auer sought the advice of Joseph Joachim, then royal concertmaster at Hanover. The two years Auer spent with Joachim (1861–63, or 1863-1865 according to Auer) proved a turning point in his career. He was already well prepared as a violinist. What proved revelatory was exposure to the world of German music making—a world that stressed musical values over virtuoso glitter. Auer later wrote: "Joachim was an inspiration to me, and opened before my eyes horizons of that greater art of which until then I had lived in ignorance. With him I worked not only with my hands, but with my head as well, studying the scores of the masters, and endeavoring to penetrate the very heart of their works."
Leopold Auer spent nearly fifty years in St. Petersburg and exerted a decisive influence on the Russian violin school, following Vieuxtemps and Wieniawski as solo violin at the Imperial Ballet. Arensky, Glazunov, Taneyev and Tchaikovsky wrote their most important violin compositions for him. As for Tschaikovsky’s violin concerto, Auer refused the dedication, declaring it technically awkward and too long! After a few revisions to the violin part, he eventually played this monumental violin work in 1893, shortly before the composer’s death.