Ida Haendel: Grande dame of the violin

Ida Haendel  Jelle Pieter de Boer 6

Following Ida Haendel’s death at the age of 96 in July, Tully Potter surveys the career of an exceptional performer and a remarkable woman

When Ida Haendel died on 1 July, aged 96, we lost almost the last survivor from Carl Flesch’s famous 1930s class – only Ivry Gitlis is left now. Like him, Haendel had a rather unorthodox career, not helped in her case by some quixotic decisions.

Born Ida Hendel in Chelm, eastern Poland, on 15 December 1923, at three she picked up her sister’s violin and played a song her mother had been singing. Her father Natan, whose progress as a cellist had been frustrated by his own father, a rabbi, became the archetypal prodigy-pushing parent…

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