Ilona Feher or Ilona Fehér (Hungarian: [ˈfɛheːr]; December 1, 1901, Budapest, Hungary – January, 1988, Holon, Israel), was one of the last representatives of the Central European Violin School whose greats included Joseph Joachim, Otakar Ševčík and Jenő Hubay. She was also a noted violin teacher.
Feher studied with Jenő Hubay for six years at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. Other violin teachers of her early years were Joseph Bloch, Josef Smvilovitch (also a pupil of Jenő Hubay) and Imre Pogany.
Feher lived in Budapest until 1942 when she was interned with her daughter in a concentration camp. They managed to escape in 1944, and joined Hungarian and Czechoslovak partisans until the liberation by the Soviet Red Army. She later returned to the concert stage to perform only in Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe.
Emigration to Israel and teaching
In 1949 she emigrated to Israel to begin a new life as a violin teacher. Within 25 years she had built herself a reputation as an inspired teacher of strong discipline, but not without a sense of humour. Her 250 pupils include some of the most outstanding violinists such as Pinkas Zukerman, Shlomo Mintz, Hagai Shaham, Ittai Shapira, Moshe Hammer and Yehonatan Berick, chamber music players Shmuel Ashkenasi and David Ehrlich as well as orchestra musician, Ron Ephrat (Principal Violist Rotterdam Philharrnonic), Yaakov Rubinstein (Concertmaster of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra) and conductor Yoel Levi. In addition to teaching at the Rubin Academy in Tel Aviv, Feher held master classes all over the world. She frequently served as jurist in international violin competitions in Munich and Freiburg, Germany, the Spohr competition.
Feher was awarded the Golden Medal and Diploma of the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest. She was also made an Honorary Doctor of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and Honorary Citizen of the city of Holon which was always her home town in Israel.
- This article is based on an article by Ron Ephrat in The Strad, special edition dedicated to Heifetz (1988).
- Dr. Samuel Appelbaum, Dr. Mark Zilberquit, Henry Roth, The way they play - Ilona Feher - Book 11, pp. 47-97, Paganinia Publications, Inc., 1983, ISBN 0-87666-799-X