Váša Příhoda (22 August 1900 - 26 July 1960) was a famous Czech violinist known for the perfection of his technique and the beauty of his tone. He was considered a Paganini specialist, and his recording of the Violin Concerto in A minor by Dvořák is still very highly praised. His artistry was controversial, and tended to polarise listeners. He was also a minor composer.
Váša Příhoda was born in Vodňany in 1900. His father, Alois Příhoda, was his first teacher and remained so for ten years. Váša Příhoda studied privately with Jan Mařák (a student of Otakar Ševčík), making his first public concert at age 13, playing the 4th Violin Concerto by Mozart. At age 19 a tour of Italy proved unsuccessful; poverty-stricken, he joined the orchestra of the Café Grand'Italia in Milan to earn money. There he was heard by chance by Arturo Toscanini, who arranged a benefit concert for him. He then resumed his Italian tour, this time to great success. He was said to have been given Niccolò Paganini's own violin on which to play. He toured Brazil and the United States in 1920, and the USA again in 1921. He once shared the stage of the Royal Albert Hall with Pablo Casals, but the pairing was considered unfortunate. Příhoda concertized extensively all over the world and made a number of recordings when the industry was in its infancy. Unfortunately, some of his recordings were not well-produced so the sound quality is poor. He played in the U.S. many times and was greatly admired for his style, dazzling technique, and finesse. Critics have suggested that Heifetz was jealous of him.
He married the violinist Alma Rosé in 1930, but they divorced in March 1935 in Czechoslovakia. The circumstances of this have been controversial; it has been claimed that he divorced her for opportunistic reasons, she being Jewish in an increasingly anti-semitic environment, and to remain with her would have been detrimental to his career. But this theory is belied by the fact that his second wife was also Jewish.
He appeared in two films in 1936: Between Two Worlds and Die Liebe des Maharadscha.
During World War II he taught at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Because he continued to perform in Germany and German-occupied territories after the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, he was briefly charged with collaboration after the war, and censured by the Czech government. He later taught at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Vienna, where his students included Friedrich Cerha. His students also included the cellist Jascha Silberstein. Vienna was his base of operations for many years though he taught in Prague, Munich, and Salzburg as well. After 1950, he dedicated most of his time to teaching and he also composed small chamber works, which are no longer played. In 1946 he left Czechoslovakia with his family, returning in 1956. This comeback was received most enthusiastically in Prague. He played recitals with pianist Alfred Holeček in the Rudolfinum Music Hall, and performed Dvořák's Violin Concerto in Smetana Hall of the Municipal House during the Prague Spring Festival. Příhoda also composed his own cadenzas to all the concertos he played. He gave his last concerts in April 1960 and died (of heart disease) on 26 July 1960.
Váša Příhoda also wrote a number of minor pieces, such as Slawische Melodie, Caprice and Sérénade, some of which he recorded. He also wrote cadenzas to the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, which have been recorded by Josef Suk.
Váša Příhoda play Paganini Nel cor piu,
Johann Sebastian Bach: Double Violin Concerto (with Franco Novello),
Bach-Gounod: Ave Maria (with the soprano Selma Kurz (one of his recordings pits his recording of the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria with those of Jan Kubelík and Jaroslav Celeda),
Antonio Bazzini: La ronde des lutins, Op. 25,
Vincenzo Bellini: "Ah, non credea mirarti ... Ah! Non giunge uman pensiero" from La sonnambula (with Selma Kurz),
Frédéric Chopin: Berceuse in D flat major, Op. 57,
Antonín Dvořák: Violin Concerto in A minor,
Dvořák: Slavonic Dance in A flat major, Op. 72, No. 8,
Benjamin Godard: Berceuse ("Ah! ne t'éveille pas encore") from Jocelyn (with Selma Kurz),
Godard: En regardant le Ciel,
Charles Gounod: Sérénade (with Selma Kurz),
Jenő Hubay: Zephyr,
Fritz Kreisler: Caprice viennois (with Selma Kurz),
Mozart: Violin Concertos No. 3 and No. 4,
Niccolò Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 1 in E flat major (usually transposed to D major),
Paganini: Introduction and Variations on "Nel cor più non mi sento" from Paisiello's La Molinara, elaborated by Příhoda,
Paganini: Sonatina for solo violin,
Anatol Provazník: Valse Joyeuse for violin and piano, Op. 137,
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: The Song of the Indian Guest from Sadko,
Leon de Saint-Lubin: Fantasie on the Sextet from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor,
Pablo de Sarasate: Zigeunerweisen,
Sarasate: Spanish Dances, Op. 22: No. 1, Romanza Andaluza; No. 2, Jota Navarra,
Franz Schubert: Litanei auf das Fest Aller Seelen ("Ruh'n in Frieden alle Seelen"), D. 343,
Bedřich Smetana: Z domoviny (Aus der Heimat; From My Homeland) for violin and piano,
his own transcription of waltzes from Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier,
Giuseppe Tartini: Sonata for violin and continuo in G minor, Devil's Trill Sonata, realized Vieuxtemps,
Enrico Toselli: Serenade (with Selma Kurz),
Henri Vieuxtemps: Violin Concerto No. 4,
Giovanni Battista Viotti: Sinfonia Concertante for two violins and strings in F major (with Franco Novello),
attrib. Tomaso Antonio Vitali, trans. Ottorino Respighi: Chaconne