Ida Haendel, (15 December 19281 July 2020) was a Polish-British-Canadian
violinist The following lists of violinists are available: * List of classical violinistsThis is a list of notable classical violinists from the Baroque music, baroque era to the 21st century. For a more comprehensive list of contemporary classical violin ...
. Haendel was a child prodigy, her career spanning over seven decades. She also became an influential teacher.

Early career

Born in 1928 to a
Polish Jewish The history of the Jews in Poland dates back at least 1,000 years. For centuries, Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrat ...
family in
Chełm Chełm (; uk, Холм, Kholm; german: Cholm; yi, כעלם, Khelm) is a city in southeastern Poland with 63,949 inhabitants (2015). It is located to the south-east of Lublin, north of Zamość and south of Biała Podlaska, some from the borde ...
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...
, her talents were evident when she picked up her sister's violin at the age of three. Major competition wins paved the way for success. Performing the
Violin Concerto A violin concerto is a concerto for solo violin (occasionally, two or more violins) and instrumental ensemble (customarily orchestra). Such works have been written since the Baroque music, Baroque period, when the solo concerto form was first devel ...
, she won the
Warsaw Conservatory The Chopin University of Music ( pl, Uniwersytet Muzyczny Fryderyka Chopina, UMFC) is a musical conservatorium A music school is an educational institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patt ...
/ref> Gold Medal and the first Bronislaw Huberman, Huberman Prize in 1933, at 5 years old. At the age of seven she competed against towering virtuosos such as
David Oistrakh David Fyodorovich Oistrakh, ''David Fiodorovič (Fišelevič) Ojstrakh'', , uk, Дави́д Фе́дорович (Фі́шелевич) О́йстрах, Davyd Fedorovych (Fishelevych) Oistrakh, group=nb, orig. german: Eustrach ( – 24 Oct ...
Ginette Neveu Ginette Neveu (11 August 191928 October 1949) was a French classical violinist. She was killed in a plane crash at the age of 30. Early life Neveu was born on 11 August 1919 in Paris into a musical family. Her brother Jean-Paul became a class ...
to become a laureate of the first Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in 1935. These accolades enabled her to study with the esteemed pedagogues Carl Flesch in London and George Enescu in Paris. During World War II she played in factories and for British and American troops and performed in Myra Hess's National Gallery concerts. In 1937 her London debut under the baton of Sir Henry Wood brought her worldwide critical acclaim, while the conductor linked her playing to his memories of Eugène Ysaÿe. Her lifelong association with the Proms resulted in 68 appearances.

Performing career

After performing the Jean Sibelius, Sibelius Violin Concerto (Sibelius), concerto in Helsinki in 1949, she received a letter from the composer. "You played it masterfully in every respect," Sibelius wrote, adding: "I congratulate myself that my concerto has found an interpreter of your rare standard." Haendel made annual tours of Europe, and also appeared regularly in South America and Asia. Living in Montreal, Canada from 1952 to 1989, her collaborations with Canadian orchestras made her a key celebrity of Canadian musical life. As a British subject resident in Canada, she acquired Canadian citizenship. Performing with the London Philharmonic in 1973, she was the first Western soloist invited to China following the Cultural Revolution. Although she worked particularly with Sergiu Celibidache, she was also associated with Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Eugene Aynsley Goossens, Eugene Goossens, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Charles Munch (conductor), Charles Munch, Otto Klemperer, Sir Georg Solti, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Bernard Haitink, Rafael Kubelík, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta and Simon Rattle, with whom she recorded the Violin Concerto (Elgar), Elgar and Sibelius violin concertos. In 1993, she made her concert début with the Berliner Philharmoniker. In 2006 she performed for Pope Benedict XVI at the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Later engagements include a tribute concert at London's National Gallery in honour of Dame Myra Hess's War Memorial Concerts and an appearance at the Sagra Musicale Malatestiana Festival in 2010. Haendel's violin was a Stradivarius of 1699. Haendel had lived in Miami, Florida, for many years and was actively involved in the Miami International Piano Festival.


Haendel's major label recordings have earned critical praise. The Sibelius Society awarded her the Sibelius Medal in 1982. She said she always had a passion for German music. Her recording career began on 10 September 1940 for Decca Label Group, Decca, initially of short solo pieces and chamber works. In April 1945, she recorded both the Violin Concerto (Tchaikovsky), Tchaikovsky and Violin Concerto (Mendelssohn), Mendelssohn concertos followed in 1947 by the Violin Concerto (Dvořák), Dvořák concerto. Her recording career spanned nearly 70 years for major labels including EMI and Harmonia Mundi. In 1948–49 she recorded 's
Violin Concerto A violin concerto is a concerto for solo violin (occasionally, two or more violins) and instrumental ensemble (customarily orchestra). Such works have been written since the Baroque music, Baroque period, when the solo concerto form was first devel ...
, with Rafael Kubelik conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra. In 2014, Supraphon issued a 5-CD set of her live and studio recordings made in Prague between 1957 and 1965. Other acclaimed recordings are her renditions of the Johannes Brahms, Brahms Violin Concerto (Brahms), Violin Concerto (including one with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sergiu Celibidache, his last studio recording, and Tchaikovsky's with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Basil Cameron. Geoffrey Norris, music critic for ''The Daily Telegraph, The Telegraph'', praised her 1993 recording of the Sibelius concerto, later released by Testament Records, as "simply mind-blowing." Among her later recordings were the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (Bach), Sonatas and partitas for solo violin, BWV1001-1006 by Johann Sebastian Bach, J. S. Bach, recorded at Studio 1 Abbey Road, London, in 1995 recorded in analogue and issued by Testament. She was equally passionate about the music of the 20th century, including Béla Bartók, Benjamin Britten and William Walton. Among her premiere performances were Luigi Dallapiccola's ''Tartiniana Seconda'', and Allan Pettersson's Violin Concerto No. 2, which was dedicated to her. Paying tribute to her teacher George Enescu, her Decca recording of his Violin Sonata with Vladimir Ashkenazy in 2000 earned her a Diapason d'Or.


Haendel's emotive performances have inspired a generation of new violinists, including Anne-Sophie Mutter, David Garrett (musician), David Garrett and Maxim Vengerov. In August 2012 she was honorary artist at the Cambridge International String Festival. She was a regular adjudicator for violin competitions, including the Sibelius, the Carl Flesch, the Benjamin Britten, and the International Violin Competition. She returned to her native Poland to judge the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poznań on a number of occasions, and was honorary chairwoman in 2011.


Haendel died at a nursing home in Pembroke Park, Pembroke Park, Florida on 1 July 2020, aged 91. According to her nephew, she had been suffering from kidney cancer at the time of her death.

Honours and awards

In 1991 she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by Elizabeth II, Queen Elizabeth II. She received honorary doctorates from the Royal College of Music, London, in 2000 and from McGill University in 2006.


Haendel published her autobiography, ''Woman With Violin'', in 1970 (Gollancz; ).


Her life has been the subject of several television documentaries, including ''Ida Haendel: A Voyage of Music'' (1988), ''I Am The Violin'' (2004), and ''Ida Haendel: This Is My Heritage'' (2011). In June 2009, she appeared on a Channel 4 television programme, ''The World's Greatest Musical Prodigies'', in which she advised the then 16-year-old British composer Alex Prior on which children to choose to play his composition."The World's Greatest Musical Prodigies"
Channel4.com, 30 March 2009.



External links

* Ida Haendel plays th
Sibelius Violin Concerto
* * {{DEFAULTSORT:Haendel, Ida 1928 births 2020 deaths British emigrants to the United States Deaths from kidney cancer Deaths from cancer in Florida Polish classical violinists British classical violinists Jewish classical violinists Child classical musicians Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition prize-winners Honorary Members of the Royal Academy of Music Commanders of the Order of the British Empire Naturalised citizens of the United Kingdom 20th-century Polish Jews People from Chełm Women classical violinists 21st-century classical violinists 21st-century women musicians