, 1919-1949, equalled only by Heifetz
, but she was coruscating
and piercingly passionate
. She won the Wienawski Competition
in 1935, defeating Oistrakh
. Among her few recordings are the Brahms
concertos. She lived solely for music, and rubbed herself raw when playing.
Born in Paris on 11 August 1919, she could sing tunes accurately after a single hearing, while still in her pram. At the age of five she would practise passages over and over again, telling her teacher, "It must be beautiful". She played the Bruch Concerto in G Minor in public at the age of seven.
Travelling Europe as a virtuoso, she took lessons with Georges Enesco, who said of the Bach Chaconne, "I play that passage rather differently": she, nine years old, said "and I play this music as I understand it". She won many prizes and competitions (she lost once in her career), she studied with Nadia Boulanger and Carl Flesch, and she was 16 she beat the already-famous 26-year-old David Oistrakh into second place in Warsaw. She was a sensation. She toured, she recorded, she was received with adulation.
The War interrupted her career; after it she resumed touring the world, with her brother the pianist Jean Neveu as her accompanist. She wrote, "I am aware of a new evolution taking place within me. May it lift me higher in my art."
On 28 October 1949 the plane carrying her hit a mountain in the Azores. She was cradling her Stradivarius protectively in her arms. The aeroplane carrying her also carried Jean, and her friend Edith Piaf's lover, the boxer Marcel Cerdan. Neveu is buried in Père Lachaise, near Chopin.
Other recordings include a live performance of the Beethoven violin concerto; the Richard Strauss sonata in E flat major; Debussy's sonata in G minor; Ravel's Tzigane; and Chausson's Poème.
Yes, coruscating is the word: her style was coruscating, driven, celestial, incandescent, angelic.
Nothing great is achieved without the solitude of vocation, and true greatness is, perhaps, a kind of radiant solitude... People are sometimes faint-hearted because they fear death. But death is something sublime, which one must deserve according to the life and ideals within one's self.