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Guila Bustabo

 
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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:31 am    Post subject: Guila Bustabo Reply with quote

Anyone know the name Guila Bustabo.
Bustabo, born in Wisconsin in 1918 was something of a child prodigy. She made her debut at the age of four with the Chicago Symphony under Frederick Stock. Sibelius asked her to record his Concerto which she did in war time Berlin with the Berlin State Orchestra under Fritz Zaun. This is a pretty rare recording, I have seen a copy for sale on the net and a Cd was available in the states a few years back. I have yet to hear it, anyone familier with Bustabo's performance.--kullervopete.

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Andrew B
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know that her performance is a great favourite of Edward Clark, our colleague in the UK Sib Soc - but I'm afraid I haven't heard it either.

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Forum members might be interested in Bustabo's reminiscence of a visit she made to Finland, I think around 1937. She had been invited to perform the Sibelius Concerto in Helsinki and she also had a personal appointment to visit and play for maestro Sibelius.

Maestro Sibelius lived in a beautiful villa in Jarvenpaa. The villa was very large, comfortable, warm, but the garden was desolate. It was early winter and all the flowers, plants and trees were frozen over, and it was very cold with ice and snow. My mother and I obtained a taxi and left for Maestro Sibelius's villa. We were provided with furs to keep us warm, and I placed my Guarneri del jesu under the fur robe to try and keep it warm. We spoke no Finnish and the driver spoke no English. My mother was uneasy, thinking that we might be kidnapped in this wilderness.
Maestro Sibelius's wife, Aino, met us at the door and escorted my mother and me to meet the Maestro. She spoke some English, as did the Maestro. He offered us some Turkish coffee with cream, and refreshments. I still had not completely recovered from the dysentery and after I tasted that brew I felt sure I would get sick and pass out. In addition, he took out one of his great big cigars and began smoking it, which almost put me out.
Maestro Sibelius was completely bald. He had intense, beautiful, piercing blue eyes, and he had several deep furrows between his eyebrows. Since I was not feeling so well with the Turkish coffee, the cigar smoke and the recent typhoid, I decided I had better play immediately, before I got sick. I had a soprano voice and had I not studied the violin, I probably would have sung opera. [in fact, I have studied opera since then.] I always sang the accompanying themes when I played the violin in practice, so I decided to play the Sibelius Violin Concerto and at the same time sing the accompaniment together with the violin. As I was playing the violin and singing the accompaniment, I noted that Maestro Sibelius's eyes were welling up with tears and, by the time I finished the first movement, he was weeping uncontrollably. Upon finishing the first movement, I was worried that I had done something wrong; but as soon as I finished, he told me that I had played it exactly as he had 'envisioned it when he had composed it'. I then played the second and third movements, again singing the accompaniment, and he was profoundly touched by the performance. Maestro Sibelius embraced me before we left and kissed me on both sides of my face.
Mother and I then took a cab to Helsinki, where I then played the Sibelius concerto. Maestro Sibelius listened to it on the radio, as he was unable to attend the live performance. As I remember, I played the Sibelius with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. The ovation was enormous at the end. And then two ushers came down the centre aisle, carrying a wooden tub containing two dozen large pink roses. I kept three of the roses for years in a small silver box. I subsequently played the Sibelius concerto at least two dozen times, including a performance with Sir Thomas Beecham and the London Symphony Orchestra.
As a result of my performance of the Sibelius in Helsinki [after I returned to Europe after the Australian Tour, during 1938], Maestro Sibelius later arranged through his daughter with the Finnish Consulate in Berlin that when his concerto was recorded , it would be with Guila Bustabo as soloist. This was done in early 1940 with the Stadtisches Orchestra, and Fritz Zaum conducting. This is now in the Bustabo Legacy collection.
Many years later, around 1955, the 'Finnish Eagle', as Sibelius was called, asked the concert agency about Guila Bustabo and requested that she come back to Finland. When I returned in 1956, I repeated the concerto with the Helsinki Philharmonic. It was known , after my first visit to Sibelius, that he had entrusted painter-friend, Wettenhovi-Aspa, paint an oil painting of me from a photograph Sibelius had, and it had been hanging in his villa for 20 years.
Another rememberence is that [in 1956] Sibelius made me promise that I would not fly again. He feared that I and my mother would crash, as had Ginnette Neveu, Jacues Thibaud and Grace Moore, with the Prince of Sweden. I kept this promise faithfully until September 1988. The promise was formally absolved by the Church, by the Priest, saying it was not wilful disobedience but actually necessity for business--and the Priest added the Church blessing at the end, before I made a trip to Switzerland to settle some business.
A partly forgotten fact [from 1936] : I asked Maestro Sibelius for an autograph, and his wife found me a photo, on which he wrote in English, 'to Guila Bustabo, the genius interpreter of my concerto, with admiration, J. S.' it was lost during the war, in London, where I left much music, my clothes and personal possessions in Cook's Warehouse...
Another fact: the Ensio Merkia gold brooch. This brooch was a gold treble clef on a stave of music lines. It was given to Helsinki musicians after they had been with the Philharmonic Orchestra for 25 years. In 1961, after I played the Sibelius concerto, the Ensio Merkia was given to me--after the musicians gave me a standing ovation called the 'touche'-the brass section standing up and playing a fanfare. The fanfare was repeated later, in Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Facinating reminiscences of Guila Bustabo.--kullervopete.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is fascinating stuff, kullervopete, a truly engrossing read. As a conductor, this struck me above all else:

kullervopete wrote:
"I always sang the accompanying themes when I played the violin in practice, so I decided to play the Sibelius Violin Concerto and at the same time sing the accompaniment together with the violin."


Shocked

To be able to perform with a soloist like that... I have had the unfortunate pleasure of too many soloists who upon reading that quote would reply:

"... accompaniment?"

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Bill_Hassay
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I played in the First violin section of the Alabama (Birmingham) Symphony Orchestra from 1980 to 1993...the first five years were when Guila was in the section. As we had a revolving section, and there were only 11 to 13 players in the section, a goodly part of that time, I was a stand partner with Guila. So many stories...she was very difficult to work with,but she was an amazing talent.

her abilities with the solo violin literature were absolutely amazing...If there was a violinist soloist that was late to rehearsal...Guila could play the concerto on the spur of the moment, whatever it was. To hear her sing the first violin part to a Mozart violin concerto, simultaneously as she played the solo part..amazing...

She did play the Katchaturian Violin Concerto in concert with us...and she was totally spot on form...absolutely scintillating...every note crystal clear, and nailed...I had tears in my eyes while we were playing it, cause I knew that the amazing performance was not recorded, and was lost. She blew us all away,...her technique was second to nobody, ever!

Yet, when it came to playing in a section, being able to play in a section...she was totally lost. Also, she was astonishingly unfamiliar with the basic orchestra standards...for example... "Brahms 4th symphony...what is this piece?".

She was not really capable of blending, of having the musicality of playing in a section...she was a liability to a regional Orchestra.

An incident...Henryk Szerying came and played a concert with us....she had NO CLUE who he was...never heard of him...BUT HE KNEW WHO SHE WAS....and was absolutely shocked to find here there playing in the section....and he just had to meet her...

Her mother was absolute life smothering to Guila, and was constantly with Guila everywhere almost she went. Guila never really had a life...

She never talked about her time durung the war, it was always a mystery to us, except we knew where her career had been. She was to us totally unpolitical, and oblivious to everything except solo violin playing. I have no doubt that she was totally clueless to the events in the world and in europe when she was there

Her bipolar illness was very apparent, she could be so manic and hyped up...I remember driving her to a rehearsal about an hour away, and a friend and I had to listen to her prattle on about a recent doctors visit, she was having difficulty swallowing. After an hour of nonstop talking from her...she informed us that the doctor had recommended putting a rubber hose down her throat...I don't know how accurate she was about the doctors recommendation....but we were all for it! Smile

Her career was not derailed by what happened in Germany, but in my opinion, was derailed by her mental illness. And I am sure she had quite a bit of frustration, and anger added into the mix. I can't say that I would blame her for that, either. It was her bipolar illness that closed all doors for her, she was impossible to cope with.

But boy, she could play a whole boatload of violin!
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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A warm welcome Bill to the forum.

What a tremendous first post!

It is utterly facinating to learn about Guila Bustabo first hand from someone who has actually played alongside her. Her ability to sing the violin part in a Mozart concerto is amazing and Sibelius was certainly moved when he heard her.
From what you tell us Bill, Bustabo was something of an enigma. I believe that she played some 26 concertos and all from memory as well as inumerable sonata's and short pieces. Yet she was lost playing in the orchestra.
Thankyou so much Bill for sharing your remarkable reminiscences of Guila Bustabo with the forum and I look forward to many more contributions from you.--kp

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll jump on kullervopete's band-wagon, welcome Bill_Hassay to the forum and congratulate you as well on a fine, fine post.

If it were directly about Sibelius, I would grant it a Mark of Excellence...

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fascinating thread. I Googled the name for images and biography -- what a strikingly lovely visage!


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most comprehensive obituary I found.
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another.

Oh yes, warmest of welcomes, Bill -- great post! Smile I'm fairly new myself.
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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite a stunning picture. I can well see how Sibelius was totally captivated by her.--kp

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome, Bill!

Something about that photo reminds me of Sibelius's own daughters - something in the eyes, the brow, the nose maybe?

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


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Margareta [left] Heidi [right]



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Eva




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Katarina




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Ruth

Here are Sibelius's beloved Daughters.--kp

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GREAT photos, Pete. I think I've only seen one of these photos before, the others are new to me. Thank you for posting!

Now that you mention it, Andrew, Miss Bustabo does look as if she could have been a Sibelius. The eyes and nose are certainly similar. Maybe this is another reason why the master was obviously so drawn to her...maybe he saw the look of his daughters in that striking face.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, great photos. Normally with pictures of the Sibelius brood one sees primarily a great resemblance to Jean, but this picture of Eva certainly has a lot of Aino as well (I know, it must be around 50 per cent...).

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 2:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andrew B wrote:
... Eva certainly has a lot of Aino as well (I know, it must be around 50 per cent...).

Laughing ... Rolling Eyes
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