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December 15, 1928 |
Born in 1928 to a traditional Polish Jewish family in Chełm, Eastern Poland, her prodigious talents were evident when she picked up her father’s violin at the age of three. Major competition wins paved the way for success. Performing the Beethoven Violin Concerto, she won the Warsaw Conservatory  Gold Medal and the first Huberman Prize in 1933. At the age of seven she competed against towering virtuosos – the likes of Oistrakh and Neveu – to become a laureate of the first Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in 1935. These accolades enabled her to study with the esteemed pedagogues Carl Flesch in London and George Enescu in Paris. During World War II she played in factories and for British and American troops. In 1937 her London debut under the baton of Sir Henry Wood brought her worldwide critical acclaim, and began a lifelong association with The Proms, where she has appeared 68 times.
Throughout her life Ida Haendel has made annual tours of Europe, and also appeared regularly in South America and Asia. Living in Montreal from 1952 to 1989, her collaborations with Canadian orchestras made her a key celebrity of Canadian musical life. Performing with the London Philharmonic in 1973, she was the first Western soloist invited to China following the Cultural Revolution. Although her name is particularly associated with that of the spirited direction of Sergiu Celibidache, she has also played with names such as Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Eugene Goosens, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Charles Munch, Otto Klemperer, Sir Georg Solti, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Bernard Haitink, Rafael Kubelík and Simon Rattle.
In 1993 she had her concert début with the Berliner Philharmoniker. In 2006 she performed for Pope Benedict XVI at the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Later engagements include a tribute concert at London's National Gallery in honour of Dame Myra Hess's War Memorial Concerts, an appearance at the Sagra Musicale Malatestiana Festival in 2010, and a performance of Max Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 in Miami with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Her major label recordings have earned critical praise, particularly her performance of the Sibelius Concerto which elicited a fan letter from its composer: ‘I congratulate you on the great success, but most of all I congratulate myself, that my concerto has found an interpreter of your rare standard’. The Sibelius Society awarded her the Sibelius Medal in 1982.
Ida Haendel has said that she has always had a passion for German music. Her recording career began on 10 September 1940 for Decca, initially of short solo pieces and chamber works. In April 1945, she recorded both the Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn concertos followed in 1947 by the Dvořák concerto. Her recording career spans nearly 70 years for major labels including EMI and Harmonia Mundi. In 1948-49 she recorded Beethoven's Violin Concerto, with Rafael Kubelik conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra. Other acclaimed recordings are her renditions of the Brahms Violin Concerto (including one with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sergiu Celibidache) and Tchaikovsky's with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted Basil Cameron.
She is renowned for her distinguished interpretations of the classical violin repertoire, yet is equally passionate about the music of the 20th century, including Béla Bartók, Benjamin Britten and William Walton. Among her premiere performances have been Luigi Dallapiccola's Tartiniana Seconda, and Allan Pettersson's Violin Concerto No. 2, which was dedicated to her. Paying special tribute to her teacher George Enescu, her Decca recording of his Violin Sonata with Vladimir Ashkenazy in 2000 earned her a Diapason d'Or.
Haendel's highly emotive performances have inspired a generation of new violinists: Anne-Sophie Mutter, Maxim Vengerov and David Garrett regard her with awe. Her masterclasses attract many of the finest up-and-coming talent. In August 2012 she was Honorary Artist at the Cambridge International String Festival. She is also a regular adjudicator for violin competitions, including the Sibelius, the Carl Flesch, the Benjamin Britten, and the International Violin Competition. Ida has returned to her native land of Poland to judge the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poznań on a number of occasions, and was Honorary Chairwoman in 2011.
Ida Haendel published her autobiography, Woman With Violin in 1970. Immediate Family: Sister; Sarah Grunberg, Nephews; Richard Grunberg, Emil Grunberg, Great Niece and Nephew; Robyn Grunberg, Corey Grunberg
Her life has been the subject of several television documentaries, including Ida Haendel: A Voyage of Music (1988), I Am The Violin (2004), and Ida Haendel: This Is My Heritage (2011).
In June 2009 Haendel appeared on a Channel 4 television programme entitled The World's Greatest Musical Prodigies, in which she advises 16-year old British composer Alexander Prior on which children to choose to play his composition.
- The Strad magazine dated March 1937 gives her birth date as 15 January 1923; her precise age is in doubt
- It has been reported that, in consultation with her father, the English impresario Harold Holt adjusted her birth year from 1928 to 1923 to make it appear she was five years older than she really was. This was done in order to circumvent Covent Garden's rule prohibiting anyone aged under 14 appearing on stage. The incorrect birth year of 1923 has since appeared in many reference works. (see A Genius of the Violin – Ida Haendel)
- Petrášková, Eva; (transl.) Ivan Vomáčka (2003). Ravel: Tzigane, Lalo: Symphonie espagnole, Hartmann: Concerto funébre (CD). Prague: Supraphon. p. 12. SU 3677-2011. 
- BBC Proms Archive
- "Biography: Ida Haendel", Miami International Piano Festival
- (German) " Der Geigerin Ida Haendel zum 80", Die Welt, 15 December 2008
- "Ida Haendel Homage Page" by José Sánchez-Penzo
- Lebrecht, Norman, "Ida Haendel - The one they don't want you to hear", La Scena Musicale, 22 June 2000
- "FACT SHEET: TITLE: THE WORLD’S GREATEST MUSICAL PRODIGIES", Channel 4, 2009
- "The World's Greatest Musical Prodigies", Channel 4, 30 March 2009