Béla Katona: A Teacher Through and Through
One of the 20th century’s greatest violin pedagogues, Béla Katona would have turned 100 this month. Tully Potter charts his life and career, and speaks to former pupils – mainly at London’s Trinity College of Music – about the success of his teaching methods
Among the great violin teachers of the 20th century the name of Béla Katona may not resonate as loudly as, say, Carl Flesch or Ivan Galamian, but he was an important pedagogue who kept the Jenő Hubay tradition going and brought it to Britain and Japan. His pupils testify to the humanity and inspiration that underlaid his apparently strict regime.
He was born in Pozsony (the Hungarian name for Bratislava), the cosmopolitan city at the hub of Austria, Slovakia and Hungary, on 21 April 1920; so he was around 15 months older than Tibor Varga and four years older than Johanna Martzy. The name Katona translates as ‘soldier’. It was a musical family – his children think Béla’s father was a violinist, but he never spoke about his early life…