Obituary: Violinist Ida Haendel, 96

Posted on: July 6, 2020

“The Polish-born violinist Ida Haendel, who has died aged 96, enthralled audiences around the world with a combination of classical rigor and romantic warmth—the mix of ‘ice and fire … simply mind-blowing’ that one reviewer found in a recording of the Sibelius concerto,” writes Robert White in Thursday’s (7/1) Guardian (U.K.). “It was taken from her penultimate Promenade concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London, in 1993…. Haendel’s security in octaves and perfectly judged use of the expressive slide, the portamento, were features of a highly characteristic sound that combined great accuracy with intense lyricism…. A native of Chelm, near Poland’s eastern border, Haendel told her story in her autobiography Woman With Violin (1970)…. Haendel’s debut [in London] came in a Queen’s Hall recital in December 1936…. Her early achievement was astonishing: she won the Huberman prize for young Polish performers with the Beethoven in 1933, and came seventh in the inaugural Wieniawski competition in Warsaw in 1935…. During the second world war, she performed in factories, in Myra Hess’s National Gallery concerts and for British and US troops…. With the BBC Symphony Orchestra to China (1981), [she was] the first western soloist to appear there after the Cultural Revolution.”