Kazuhide Isomura

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Tokyo Quartet's long-serving violist reflects on a critical decision he made as a student

Maybe I didn’t really have to give up practising the violin entirely

As a young musician it had been my dream to form a string quartet, so I have been very fortunate in that I have fulfilled my dream. If I have any slight regret, it’s that I couldn’t concentrate on two instruments at the same time.

I came to the Juilliard School to do a violin major, and spent a year studying with Ivan Galamian. When my friends and I decided to start a string quartet, we desperately needed to find a viola player. My two partners strongly suggested that I should take the role myself – I had always loved playing the viola in chamber music, so I made the decision to give up studying violin to focus on becoming a full-time violist.
It wasn’t an easy decision for me, so, to ensure I wasn’t tempted to practise my violin, I sent it back to my parents in Japan and asked them to sell it! They did so, and sent me the money in order to support my studies in New York. For maybe 15 years after making that decision, I never picked up a violin.
I think I may have gone too far – maybe I didn’t really have to give up practising the violin entirely. Very occasionally I play the violin at chamber music parties – I love it, but I’m not sure what other people think! But I look forward to reacquainting myself with the wonderful violin repertoire in the future.

Photo: J. Henry Fair

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