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Ginette Neveu (1919 - 1949)

When Ginette Neveu’s plane crashed in 1949 the musical world lost a striking talent at the peak of her career. Having begun lessons with her mother and made her début at seven, she was taught by Jules Boucherit at the Paris Conservatoire where she won the premier prix, before further studies with George Enescu and Carl Flesch. The latter offered her a scholarship after hearing her in a competition in Vienna in 1931. Neveu treasured Flesch’s tuition: he did not wish to tinker with the musicianship she already displayed, but merely offered technical advice.

Winning the 1935 Wieniawski Competition was something of a coup for the French ‘school’ which had suffered a lean period after Jacques Thibaud’s earlier success. Thibaud, indeed, described Neveu as ‘the priestess’ of music.

Neveu, as her discography bears witness, was strong-minded regarding interpretation. She once refused to follow Enescu’s guidance on the Bach D minor Chaconne, saying: ‘I play this music as I understand it; not in a way which escapes my comprehension.’ Ida Haendel spoke of her first encounter, aged seven, with the teenage Neveu at Flesch’s Paris studio: ‘[…] her playing was intense and passionate, her tone large and vibrato wide. Her dramatic approach had the impact of a volcano.’ Interestingly, New York critics—who were fonder of the Russian school by this time—found a ‘lack of power’ in her 1937 US début.




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