As Nell Gotkovsky opens her studio door in the Harris Fine Arts Center at Brigham Young University, her face lights up with an incandescent smile, and you are enveloped in heady warmth as she turns her complete attention to you. To this woman, who has played for kings and potentates, you are at that moment the most important person in the world.
But first she must usher out a student - a slim, quiet girl who seems excessively subdued. Nell suggests alternatives to practicing heavily and meeting a full lesson schedule, and invites her to drop in for a little help whenever she can."She was in an accident this summer, and she feels her playing is threatened," said Nell, speaking in a throaty, intimate French accent.
Then you settle down for a chat with this woman, a violin virtuoso whose career has encompassed a grueling schedule of performance all over the world, but who slowed down because she wants to enjoy the simple pleasures of life: being in the kitchen, seeing the flowers bloom, reading a good book.
BYU's newest virtuoso-teacher will be introduced to Utahns in two upcoming events.
At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, Nell Gotkovsky will give a joint recital with her brother, pianist Ivar Gotkovsky, in the Madsen Recital Hall, Harris Fine Arts Center. The free program will feature Mozart's Variations on "Helas j'ai perdu mon amant" in G minor, K.360, and sonatas of Beethoven, Schubert and Prokofiev.
In November she will perform in a new group to be known as the Artaria Trio, with Ivar Gotkovsky and cellist Roger Drinkall, a fellow faculty member at BYU.
"I always knew I would be a violinist," said Nell Gotkovsky, who as a child prodigy entered the Paris Conservatory at 12. "Three of my family have become professional musicians - besides myself and Ivar, my sister Ida is a composer."
Though Gotkovsky finished conservatory at 16, taking all prizes in performance, theory, harmony and musicology, her father quickly put things in perspective by saying, "Now everything is going to begin!"
"My father, Yaker Gotkovsky, was a violinist with the Quartet Capet, which came to BYU during the 1940s, and he played here with the Loewenguth Quartet also," she recalled.
Her 17th year (1956) was a banner year for the young artist, who won second prize and the silver medal at the Geneva Competition, and at the Warsaw Competition encountered David Oistrakh, with whom she studied, then moved on to the tutelage of Ivan Galamian and Joseph Szigeti.
In 1962 she made a fruitful connection with Walter Legge, then of EMI Records, and made her London debut under Otto Klemperer, playing the Brahms concerto. She also worked on interpretation of Schubert and Mozart with the great lieder singer Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.
She has played concertos with conductors Giulini, Sawallisch, Boult, Ansermet, Kleiber, Dorati, Fruebeck de Burgos, Ceccato, De Waart, Davies, Dutoit and many others, with all the major English orchestras and those of Berlin, Chicago, Vienna, Hamburg and Munich and l'Orchestre National de France. Her repertory encompasses 46 concertos, including modern works of Schoenberg, Weill, Berg, Korngold, Britten, Barber, Shostakovich and Martinu.
With her first recording for EMI in 1963 (six Bartok duets with Yehudi Menuhin) began an outpouring of highly acclaimed discs on that label and for RCA. In 1972 she and Ivar began concertizing as a duo, to glowing critical acclaim, and as she has turned increasingly to the chamber repertory, they have made numerous recordings together, often on RCA.
Though Gotkovsky concertized more in Europe (England, France, Germany and Switzerland) than here, to cognoscenti she is well known. "At 22 I made my first tour of the United States, and played with the Chicago Symphony," she said. "After that I made many tours, as a recital soloist and chamber music player, and I have given many master classes here."
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