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or contact; Gianluca La Villa –

La Sala Bianca Della Musica; the White Music Room
Gianluca La Villa
Il Segno dei Gabrielli Editori
2008 - 220 pp with ill. and appendices [in Italian and English]
ISBN 978 88 6099 043 3 €15
Experience Classicsonline

Faction is a well-established genre but this is an unusual example of it. Like a midnight scribe of old, Gianluca La Villa sat down and, in pretty much one sitting, wrote this book. It’s based on an exhibit held in Ferrera in 2003 on the ‘Hungarian Violin School.’ Professor László Gombos of the Hubay Foundation curated the exhibition and provided the photographs – many of which are reproduced in the book and fabulous they are too.

But let’s step back for a moment. Jenö Hubay was one of the most important of all violin players and pedagogues. His school was extensive, long-lived and still contentious - that notorious "Hubay vibrato" – but produced some of the leading players of the day from Eugene Ormandy to Szigeti, Johanna Martzy to Jelly d’Aranyi, von Vecsey to Telmanyi, from Sandor Végh to Andre Gertler.

It’s the mention of Vecsey that directs one to the spine of this story – a supernatural meeting between the Master, Hubay, and that most eminent pupil of his, through the conduit of the author’s evocative and razor sharp imagination. La Villa takes an imaginative stroll down the years and in essence ponders what the Ferrara conference considered through the means of a dialogue between Hubay and Vecsey at which the author is a star-struck spectator. In essence then this is an essay on this aspect of the Hungarian Violin School conducted in the form of a reminiscent dialogue.

But don’t let the seemingly Socratic nature of this fool you. There is a wealth of information here for those of specialised tastes. La Villa is well known for his admiration both of this School and of von Vecsey in particular – the violinist lived for a number of years in the sumptuous apartment in a house in Venice in which Wagner had lived for a short time.

The book is written in English and Italian. There are splendid appendices which include articles by Gombos himself, by Carla Moreni on Wanda Luzzato and by the English violin authority Cheniston K. Roland - and those terrific photographs. This book is neither a biography of Hubay nor of Vecsey, though I daresay La Villa would be better placed than almost anyone to write a biography of the latter. Specialists will want to note the regard La Villa expresses for Luzzato, whom Hubay held in the highest regard as well, and will want to agitate for the release of her radio broadcasts.

And finally the title; The White Music Room was in the Hotel Victoria in Budapest where Hubay lived, taught and performed for many years.

Jonathan Woolf


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