In my previous blog, I wrote about my great uncle, Rudolph (Rudy) Fuchs and the miracle of receiving his first string instrument, a small viola he purchased in 1923. In 2015, it was purchased by a young woman who played in a youth orchestra. The viola was in reasonable condition, but the case, strings, bridge, bow, and chin rest all needed to be replaced. The curious thing was that the original receipt was still in the case and the chin rest had Rudolph Fuchs, 1920 engraved in it. That led the young woman to find out who he was. Her Google search led her to my website.
After purchasing and restoring Rudy’s viola, I began to take lessons. I have been playing for 1 1/2 years now and it has been a transformative and fulfilling experience.
I still, though, longed to hear how Rudy played. His only 2 recordings were made in 1929 and they were for his personal use. Copies could have been made at the time for his friends, agents, etc., but no family member knew of such a recording. I searched online for Victrola record collectors, but didn’t turn up anything. I decided to stop looking.
A few days ago, I received an e-mail from a retired high school choral music conductor, who enjoys and collects old 78 rpms. His sidekick is auctioning his record collection. One of the records in his collection (which he picked up at a sale many years ago) was Rudy’s 1929 recording of him accompanying a male soloist, tenor Nicholas Vasilieff, singing “Berceuse” from Godard’s Jocelyn. Mr. Holdridge told me that he could send me a CD of the original record.
Berceuse Nicholas Vasilieff accompanied by Rudolph (Rudy) Fuchs
Of course, I was absolutely thrilled when I listened to the recording. It was a dream come true. Considering that the sound quality on a record made in 1929 could be poor, the sound my great uncle produced on his violin was absolutely beautiful. I could hear how sensitively, and with such emotion, he played. Nothing could detract from that.
Another recording of Rudy playing Ave Maria has still not been found, but I imagine that some collector of old records might have it in his or her possession. I truly hope that one day, it will also find its way to me, like the viola and his recording that has enriched my life.