The University of Wisconsin Press
Biography / Autobiography / Art / Film & Theater / Media Studies - Film
A Fiddler's Tale
How Hollywood and Vivaldi Discovered Me
Louis Kaufman with Annette Kaufman
"It was Louis Kaufman, perhaps more than any other single performer, who gave American film music its voice."
Jim Svejda, from the foreword
This fascinating memoir, written by one of the greatest American violinists of the twentieth century, recounts an extraordinary life in music.
Once called by the New York Times "a violinist's violinist and a musician's musician," Louis Kaufman was born in 1905 in Portland, Oregon. He studied violin with Franz Kneisl at New York's Institute of Musical Art. He was the original violist of the Musical Art Quartet (1926–1933) and won the Naumburg Award in 1928, the year of his American solo recital debut in New York's Town Hall.
During these early years, he played chamber music with Pablo Casals, Mischa Elman, Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Gregor Piatigorsky, and Efrem Zimbalist, among others. After performing the violin solos for Ernst Lubitsch's 1934 film The Merry Widow, Kaufman became the most sought after violin soloist in Hollywood, playing in some 500 films, including Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, The Diary of Anne Frank, Wuthering Heights, The Grapes of Wrath, and Spartacus. He worked closely with Robert Russell Bennett, Bernard Herrmann, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Alfred Newman, Miklós Rózsa, Max Steiner, Franz Waxman, and Victor Young.
Extraordinary as it seems today, Kaufman was largely responsible for bringing the once-forgotten music of Antonio Vivaldi to its current popularity worldwide among both classical musicians and the general population of music lovers.
"Louis Kaufman was a fine musician, whose warm, sweet tone was instantly recognizable, and who always had a great respect for the composers whose works he played. He and his wife Annette were responsible for discovering forgotten manuscripts of Vivaldi, with whose work he was closely associated, but he also supported the work of many modern composers. A dear friend for fifty years, I remember his modesty and integrity, his generosity towards other players, his sense of fun and his wonderful fund of anecdotes about the famous musicians whom he had met in the course of his career."—Sheila Hodges, author of Lorenzo Da Ponte: The Life and Times of Mozart's Librettist
Click here to see sample illustrations from the book.
Louis Kaufman (19051994) was probably the most-recorded violinist in history, with recordings of more than one hundred major concert works and hundreds of film soundtracks to his credit.
Annette Kaufman (1914–2016), a pianist, shared Louis's passion for music, art, and theater as they traveled the globe on performance tours. She carried forward their joint vision in the completion of this book and in her support for the arts.
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LC: 2002010217 ML
488 pp. 6 x 9 70 b/w photos,
8-page color insert, includes music CD
Cloth $26.95 t
Spoken CD $29.95 t
Now available as a book and as a spoken word CD, this fascinating memoir, written by one of the greatest American violinists of the twentieth century, recounts an extraordinary life in music. Annette Kaufman, a pianist, shared Louis's passion for music, art, and theater as they traveled the globe on performance tours. She dramatically reads her husband's fascinating autobiography on fourteen CDs, with a fifteenth CD of musical selections inimitably played by one of the twentieth century's greatest violinists, Louis Kaufman.
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Updated September 14, 2012© 2012, The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System