Ida Haendel and Josef Hassid had much in common. Both were Jewish, born in Poland. Both showed immense promise while still children. Both studied with the same teacher, Carl Flesch.

Ida Haendel was disciplined, all business, married to her violin, first British, then Canadian, then American, dying at age 91, after an astonishingly seven-decade long career marked by a debut at the age of five and late-life appearances in her eighties.

Haendel recorded extensively a wide-ranging repertoire that spanned all the major Romantic works for her instrument and modern works by Luigi Dallapiccola and Benjamin Britten. Late in her remarkable life she made several important appearances, including in 2006 her concert at the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Josef Hassid was unstable, deeply attached to his father after the early loss of his mother, and British for the most part of his 26-year short life. He was handsome but shy with women, and an unlucky love affair drove him to utter despair that eventually developed into the schizophrenia that ended his life.

Of Hassid, the collaborative pianist Gerald Moore said: “Hassid was the greatest instrumental genius I’ve ever partnered. I don’t know how to explain his incandescence. He had technical perfection, marvelous intonation, glorious tone – but there was something above that which was quite incredible, a metaphysical quality. Sadly, he had an unhappy love affair which literally drove him mad. But then maybe the unrest inside him made him play so fantastically.”


Performed by Ida Haendel

Giuseppe Tartini Andante and Presto

Niccolò Paganini Caprice in A Minor

Ernest Bloch Nigun

Antonín Dvořák Slavonic Dance

Johannes Brahms Waltz in A Flat Major

Béla Bartók Romanian Folk Dance

Maurice Ravel Habanera

Henryk Weiniawski Polonaise brilliante

Edvard Grieg Scherzo-Impromptu

Aaron Copland Hoe Down

Performed by Josef Hassid

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Mélodie

Antonín Dvořák Humoresque

Jules Massenet Meditation

Edward Elgar La Capricieuse

Pablo de Sarasate Danzas Españolas: Playera & Zapateado

Fritz Kreisler Caprice Viennois

Joseph Achron Hebrew Melody


Comparisons are always odious; comparing two giants to one another is an exercise in futility. Both Ida Haendel and Josef Hassid were quintessentially Romantic, impeccable technicians who could inject depth and dignity into both great music and into the most casual pièce d’occasion.

Haendel and Hassid were both totally at home in the unabashed sentimentality of Kreisler and Massenet, and the folk-rooted pieces of Bartók and Dvořák and Copland – the mark of great artists sure of themselves.

Ida Haendel and Josef Hassid’s recordings for HMV with accompanist Gerald Moore in the newly remastered Parnassus release brings them together in a collection of short works – a gift to lovers of violin music.

Rafael de Acha (c) 2023

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