The Hungarian violinist Johanna Martzy was considered one of the great hopes of her generation during the 1950s. From her base in Switzerland, she conquered all the major European concert stages from 1950 onwards. Through a chain of unfortunate events, her career had already passed its apex during the early 1960s. At the end of the decade, her career that had begun so brilliantly finally came to a complete standstill. The doubts of this serious and introverted musician outweighed her longing and temptation to live a life in the limelight.
Because Johanna Martzy’s recording career only lasted four years, her name has become a legend amongst experts; her recordings are rare collector’s items. Her highly conscious, careful selection of repertoire was completely consistent with her way of making music. The clear, brilliant tone, without any frills, of her preferred Carlo Bergonzi violin lends her playing a definite profile that is easy to recognise. She limited herself to a very manageable number of works ranging from Bach to moderate modern composers, but mastered these utterly.
In 1953 she was engaged by the RIAS (today: Deutschlandradio Kultur) to participate in a production of the Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53 of Antonín Dvořák on the occasion of a concert with Ferenc Fricsay and the RIAS Symphony Orchestra. Since the orchestra at that time stood under the shock of impending disbandment, a recording of this same work with Deutsche Grammophon was made in order to gain financial support.
Although both recordings were made in the same recording room within just a few days of each other, they are markedly different, especially in their respective sounds. The radio recording, which was long thought to have been identical to the recording made for commercial release, is being issued here for the first time.
During the 1960s, when Johanna Martzy had begun to withdraw from the major concert stages for private reasons, she regularly came to Berlin to give recitals with her piano partner Jean Antonietti. On these occasions, she also visited the recording studios of the RIAS a number of times. All of the recordings made there that still exist today can be heard in this edition. Johanna Martzy’s mastery and beauty of tone on these recordings are utterly convincing, and show that she was still at the height of her powers at that time.
Her death in 1979, hardly noticed by the general public, thus signified a tragic loss for the musical world.