Ossy Renardy, one of the most outstanding violinists ever to hold a bow, was born in Vienna on April 26th 1920 as Oskar Reiss . .. the Italianized name, Ossi Renardi was adopt¬ed in 1934.
Renardy began violin lessons at the age of five under the guidance of a neighbourhood friend of the family. Oddly, this was the only musical education the youngster received, and the talent that was to stun the violin world some years later was earned by "1racticing his. instrument five or six hours daily.
Having completed all the musical study he was ever to have, Ossy Renardy embarked upon a concert career beginning with his Viennese debut: aged thirteen. His major tri¬umph at that time took place on October 27th 1933 when he made his Italian debut at Merano at a variety concert. His dazzling playing prompted the artistic director to con¬tract him to a further ten concerts -all enthusiastically received. The initial event at the Merano Casino caused a sensation. He played the Paganini D Major concerto and the A major sonata of Schubert to an unbelieving audience. It was at this time that he assum¬ed the name that was to become famous. The extended concerts proved to be phenomenal successes and concert promoters competed with one another to sign him to a contract. Following a return engagement at t he Vienna Konzerthaus in May 1934 he performed in Milan with the renowned Victor de Sabata. This was followed by his first tour of the Bal¬tic countries which, in turn, was followed by a highly successful tour, five months later, of Norway. Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Austria, France and Italy. From this point onward his extraordinary talents soared his fame throughout Europe.
While in Italy, the wife of an American concert manager heard him play over RAI and suggested that her husband contact Renardy. This resulted in Renardy coming to the United States for a tour of the mid-western part of the country in 1937. He was heralded every¬where as a remarkable new violin star. His Town Hall debut was on January 8th 1938 which culminated in widespread acclaim. .. even European newspapers reacted. The famous Car¬negie Hall debut on October 10th 1939 is now legendary. Planned for the forthcoming Paganini Centenary, the second half of the program consisted of the entire 24 caprices... having already played the E minor concerto of Nardini, the G major sonatina, Op. 100 of Dvorak and Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole during the first half. This stunning violinistic feat created con¬siderable attention and all violinists present, which must have included all within commuting distance, were unanimous in their praise for the exciting young virtuoso. Some years later, when questioned, Renardy said that he wouldn't go through such an endurance test again.
In 1940 he recorded the 24 caprices for RCA Victor (presented as they now appear in this historical reissue) - his first recordings. Ironically, the 24 caprices turned out to be his last recordings also, for he was killed shortly after re -recording them for the Remington company in 1953. In 1941 he enlisted in the army and made many USO appearances. Two years later he became a V.S. citizen and by 1945 had played more than 490 concerts at various service camps and installations. He appeared in public concerts once more in 1947 having prepared himself for concert activity for two years after the close of World War II.
In 1948 he was busily engaged with recitals and orchestral appearances which led him to Is¬rael, Europe again and another North American tour, including Canada - all noteworthy suc¬cesses. In 1949 he married the former Suzette Guttwirth whom he met in Europe some thir¬teen years earlier.
Among the greatest Renardy admirers was the noted conductor Charles Munch who said of him" ... there is only one word to describe him: perfection. He has everything ¬style, technique and tone, combined in the most splendid manner." His clarity of execu¬tion was marvellous... a sort of neatness that was nothing short of amazing even in the most demanding passages. A somewhat similar "string articulation" was also to be found in the playing of Erica Morini and Andre Pascal. Ossy Renardy's instrument was the famous Guarnieri del Gesu violin known as the Cannon Joseph which once belonged to Paganini.
The young violinist died tragically in an automobile accident on December 3rd 1953 near Santa Fe, New i\lexico, some 27 miles south of the Colorado border, enroute to Monte Vista for a concert on that evening. His accompanist of many years, WaIter Robert, who was driving the car, survived the crash as did the Cannon Joseph violin.
It is hoped that this first volume of Ossy Renardy will restore some of the magic that he left with us, via the phonograph, at a time when the world was at war. No violinist sounds remotely like Ossy Renardy today... or perhaps really ever did.
Editors note who could imagin Paganini's violin being in a private car?
CHENISTON K ROLAND O.L.
Author, Broadcaster, Lecturer and Editor of the Violin Times
Member of the Liverpool Medical Institution
VIOLIN EDITOR CMG
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