Jaroslav Vanecek, the Czech-born violin and viola pedagogue, has
died at the age of 91. His career teaching in the UK and Ireland
spanned seven decades, from 1949 until 2001.
Born in Bratislava in 1920, Vanecek studied at the National Conservatoire in Prague, where his violin tutors included Jind?ich Basta? and Bed?ich Voldan. He spent four years as a soloist before joining the staff of the Royal Irish Academy of Music in 1949. He taught at Dublin’s Municipal School of Music from 1954 to 1972, when the Royal College of Music (RCM) invited him to take up the position of senior professor of violin. He remained at the RCM until his retirement in 2001 at the age of 80.
A noted proponent of the Russian-style approach, Vanecek emphasised discipline and the importance of technique. In an interview in The Strad (March 1986) he stated: ‘I use the [Otakar] Šev?ík materials but I am more on the Carl Flesch line.’
According to violinist David Juritz, who studied with Vanecek for four years at the RCM, all his pupils ‘followed a strict regime of Šev?ík, Kreutzer, Rode, Dont, Gavinnes and Paganini, with a weekly forensic examination of scales’. He would expect new students ‘to follow his guidance to the letter and, when he felt we could be trusted to introduce some of our own ideas, he would expect these to be presented with complete conviction’.
During his time at the RCM, Vanecek was said to insist on a minimum of four to five hours of practice each day, irrespective of students’ other commitments. However, Juritz recalled, ‘there was no doubt as to his warmth and sincerity and, while he could never have been accused of being quick to praise, when he did so, it meant a great deal. For all this he was held in enormous regard and affection by his pupils.’