Sound Fountain




Ossy Renardy (1920-1953)




























The cover of Bach's Sonata No.1












Decca LXT 2685: Brahms with Ossy Renardy and Charles Munch.

The cover of the Brahms recording with Charles Munch and the Concertgebouw Orchestra

















The Decca recording of the Brahms Concerto with Charles Munch and the Concertgebouw Orchestra on an Everest release in electronic stereo.













The Bach Sonatas and The Recital on Testament

























Charles Munch 1950 Boston


























Sergeant (pianist) Eugene List with his wife, violinist Carroll Glenn, who sews a  "hash mark" on her husband's uniform.
Pianist Eugene List (July 6, 1918 – March 1, 1985) followed a remarkable career right from the moment he premiered a Shostakovich Concerto. He enlisted in the US Army in 1942, played for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in Pozdam in 1945, and toasted with the Russian dictator. In 1953 he accompanied Ossy Renardy in Sonatas by César Franck and Maurice Ravel on the Remington label. The photo shows sergeant List with his wife, violinist Carroll Glenn, who sews a "hash mark" on her husband's uniform.
(Image taken from Etude Magazine, June 1946)































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Ossy Renardy's real name was Oskar Reiss, but when touring Italy as a teenager, he changed his name - on the instigation of his first manager - into Ossy Renardy. This artist's name should give him more fame than the serious and stiff Viennese 'Oskar Reiss'.


The liner notes on Remington R-199-152 give a short biography:

"Ossy Renardy was born in Vienna, April 26, 1920 and in this city of music he had an early opportunity to start his career.
Renardy was an accomplished violinist by the time he was eleven and though he appeared publicly on tour at this age, he returned to Vienna, completed his studies and made his formal debut at thirteen. In 1937 he came to America and toured the United States during the four seasons preceding the war. He was already playing for the USO (United Service Organization - ed.) in 1941 and the following year he entered the United States Army. It was two years after the war was over, before Renardy appeared again in public life. He had spent those two years working and studying, preparing himself for a return to the concert stage, and in 1948 he was once more performing throughout the North American continent, Europe and Israel, appearing with the Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Chicago, the St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Francisco Symphony, in fact, all the major orchestras of the United States, as well as Canada and Europe.
One of the feats for which Renardy is famous is his playing of all twenty-four of the Paganini Caprices on the second half of a recital at Carnegie Hall, after having performed the Nardini Concerto, a Sonatina of Dvorak and the Lalo Symphony Espagnole (Symphonie Espagnole) in the first half. Every violinist in town turned up for the concert. Renardy looks back on this performance of fourteen years ago and says he would not do it again. He has however, made available to everyone, his performance of these twenty-four fabiously difficult and incredibly beautiful Caprices in recording them for Remington Records. The last twelve (Nos. 13 to 24) are contained on this Volume II; the first twelve (Nos. 1 to 12) are in Volume I (R-199-146)."

Ossy Renardy (26 April 1920 -
3 December 1953)

Picture from Testament CD enhanced and edited by R.A. Bruil

In New York he studied with the famous pedagogues Theodore and Alice Pashkus in order to prepare himself for appearing anew on the stage after the war.

Alice Pashkus and Ossy Renardy.
A unique photograph of Alice Pashkus and Ossy Renardy in the early nineteen fifties. Alice and Theodore Pashkus treated Renardy more or less as their son as Stefanos Theodoridis told me. That is why they were extremely shocked when they received the message that Ossy Renardy had died.
Copyrighted image courtesy of Yorgos Manessis. Image submitted by Stéfanos Theodoridis.

The list of his shellac recordings is quite substanial.

US Columbia (these are from the late 1930s):

* 17119-D Handel-Flesch: Prayer
* 17119-D Vecsey: Caprice No, 2 "Cascade"
* 17132-D Paganini: Sonata No. 12 in E minor
* 17132-D Burmester: Viennese Serenade
* 69152-D Corelli: Sonata in E minor, Op. 5, No. 8 (2 sides)
* 69403-D, 69404-D Schubert: Sonatina No. 1 in D (3 sides)
* 69404-D Schubert: Sonatina No. 3 in G minor - 3rd, 4th movements
* 69543-D, 69544-D Dvorak: Sonatina in G, Op. 100 (3 sides)
* 69544-D Dvorak: Slavonic Dance, Op. 46, No. 8
* 69621-D Sarasate: Romanza Andaluza & Jota Navarra
* 69622-D Sarasate: Zapateado & Adios montaņas mias
* 69655-D Piatti: Sonata No. 1 in E minor
* Set X-116 Schubert: Sonatinas
* Set X-129 Dvorak: Sonatina & Slavonic Dance No. 8
* Set X-134 Sarasate: 4 pieces.
NOTE Corelli Sonata accompanied by Leo Taubman, all others by Walter Robert.

Ossy Renardy recorded for RCA-Victor in 1941:

* 16276/8 (Album M-672) Paganini Caprices Nos. 1 to 12 (6 sides)
* 17479 Saint-Saens: Concertstück, Op. 20 (2 sides) with W. Robert at the piano
* 17636/8 (Album M-738) Paganini Caprices Nos. 13 to 24 (5 sides)
* 17638-B (in M-738) Paganini: Sonata in A
* 18032-A Mozart: Adagio in E, K. 261
* 18032-B Brahms: Allegro in C minor ("F-A-E" Sonata)
* 18294-A Dvorak: Ballade in D minor, Op. 15
* 18294-B Zarzycki: Mazurka, Op. 26
* 11-8113 Ernst: Hungarian Airs, Op. 22 (2 sides)

NOTE All the above, including Paganini Caprices, accompanied by Walter Robert. Several of these 78 RPM recordings were released on CD on the Biddulph label. The 78 RPM discographies from the nineteen thirties and the 1941 recordings were submitted by Bryan Bishop.

By 1948 these recordings were out of print. The Gramophone Shop Encyclopeadia of Recorded Music lists just one 78 RPM recordset: Columbia CX 134 on which Renardy plays Pablo de Sarasate: 'Adios montaņias mias', 'Jota Navarra', 'Zapateado' and 'Romanza Andaluza'.

English Decca made several Lp recordings (the month and year of release are in brackets):

* LM 4542 Solo Sonata No. 1 (Bach) (1/52)
* LM 4536 Solo Sonata No. 3 (Bach) (5/51)
* LXT 2685 Violin Concerto (Brahms) (recorded at Amsterdam Concertgebouw on 13-14 September 1948, released on Lp 7/51)
* LK 4024 Popular Recital: Le streghe - Witches' Dance, Caprices 17 and 24 (Paganini); Liebeslied, Liebesfreud, Caprice Viennois and Tambourin Chinois (Kreisler); Scherzo tarentelle (Wieniawski); Ave Maria (Schubert).
The dates of release are taken from the Gramophone Long Playing Classical Record Catalogue, December 1954.

The releases on the London label (USA):

* LS 423 Solo Sonata No. 1 (Bach) LS 259 Solo Sonata No. 3 (Bach)
* LL 1 Violin Concerto (Brahms) (recorded 13-14 September 1948, released on Lp 7/51)
* LL 159 Violin Recital: Le streghe witches' dance; Caprices 17 and 24 (Paganini); Liebeslied, Liebesfreud, Caprice Viennois and Tambourin chinois (Kreisler); Scherzo tarentelle (Wieniawski); Ave Maria (Schubert).

Artist management folder of Ossy Renardy.
"Among the eminent of our day" and "plays Paganini's 'Cannon Joseph' Guarneri, 1743" is printed on his Columbia Artist Management folder of February 1952.
Note: It is suggested that Renardy's instrument was not the original del Gesù Cannon made for Paganini, but a copy of it made by J.B. Vuillaumme of Paris who in 1834 was asked to repair the Guarnerius del Gesù Cannon. The opportunity presented itself to take the exact measurements of the instrument and make a copy.
(Artist Management Folder - the SoundFountain Archive.)

Click here for a Sound Clip of Caprice No. 16 in G Minor

Renardy's performance of the Brahms Concerto with the Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Charles Munch was not a dramatic one. To a certain extend the recording technique (dynamics, frequency characteristic) can be blamed for this. After all the recording was made in 1948 when the Lp recording technique was new and not refined yet. And the technique of transferring 78 RPM recordings to Lp was in its infancy.

The Violin Concerto was originally released on a 5 x 78 RPM set, Decca L-Set 87, and too late for being listed in The Gramophone Encyclopedia of Recorded Music from 1948. The recording was made on September 13 and 14, 1948 (ref. Jan van Bart: Discografie van het Concertgebouworkest - Discography of the Concertgebouw Orchestra - Zutphen, Netherlands, 1989).
Irving Kolodin reviewed the set in "The New Guide To Recorded Music" (Double Day, New York, 1950):


"There is no single merit in the Renardy to give it precedence over the Szigeti or Heifetz or Neveu, save a richer serving of the colors in the score than previously provided by any source. However, Renardy's is a very live, youthful, and ingratiating performance, which has its own authentic alertness, consistently controlled. The Munch background is extremely good." - Irving Kolodin, 1950

Musicologist Mark Todd told me:

"(...) according to several reviews in Record Guide and the EMG Monthly Letter, the sound on the 78s was excellent, but unfortunately the LP transfer had a very dim sound. Both Record Guide and EMG's Monthly Letter comment on how the quality had deteriorated in the transfer. This applies not fully to the Everest Lp version which is quite palatable. There have been two CD versions of this performance. One, on a French label, is of average quality, but the official reissue approved by Decca is on the Dutton label (CDEA 5024). They have done a wonderful transfer from the 78s so the sound is revealed as never before. This reissue was made a year or so before the Testament reissues." - Mark Todd, 2003

The set of 78s was exactly the basis for a new transfer done by Andrew Rose from Pristine Audio in July 2005 and was available for several years. The sound is extremely good and the violin tone is very realistic. One can hear the very nature of the violin and the way young Renardy plays, sometimes with uncertainty and hesitation and at times he feels very secure about what he is doing, but he is always lyrical. In this transfer the balance of the orchestra is rather well preserved, despite the cleaning up of the audio signal, with the violin placed close to the microphone. The dynamics are very good as is partly the benefit of the Pulse Code Modulation of the linear digital format of the Compact Disc, but is also the result of Andrew Rose's choice of the appropriate needle tip and the fact that he took care of many a minute detail.

Nevertheless the Decca/London Lp is of interest to collectors. And the release on Everest 3314 remains a very nice item because it is analog, despite the use of enhancers and despite the simulated stereo (which can be 'by-passed' by summing left and right channels).
Renardy's playing on the Remington discs however is vivid and his interpretations have energy when required, although the sound recordings lack warmth and do the violin no justice.

The Decca recordings of Bach's Solo Sonatas Nos. 1 and 3, the Violin Recital and other performances can be found on various Testament CDs.

Ossy Renardy on Remington:

R-199-146 Paganini: Caprices 1 - 12 (the accompanied version of Ferdinand David) with Eugene Helmer, piano.

Paganini Caprices performed by Ossy Renardy with Eugene Helmer at the piano.
Ossy Renardy plays Violin Sonatas of Franck and Ravel with Eugene List at the piano.
The covers for Ossy Renardy playing the Caprices of Paganini with Eugene Helmer, as well as the Violin Sonatas of Cesar Franck and Maurice Ravel with pianist Eugene List, were designed by Alex Steinweiss.

R-199-148 Ossy Renardy performs Franck's Sonata in A and the Sonata of Ravel with pianist Eugene List.

NOTE This recording was released in December 1953 (the month of Renardy's death) together with the recording of the Caprices 13-24. The first volume of the Caprices had already been released a few months earlier.

R-199-152 Paganini: Caprices 13 - 24 (the accompanied version of Ferdinand David) with Eugene Helmer, piano.

NOTE In those 78 RPM and early LP days a few companies did prefer to make recordings of these works with piano accompaniament instead of recording the single soloist, afraid as they may have been not to sell enough copies. The piano certainly would make the music more accessible. Zino Francescati had recorded Caprices with pianist Mario Pilati. However Ruggiero Ricci and Michael Rabin recorded the Caprices for solo violin.

Don Gabor, who after he came to the USA worked in the shipping department at RCA, probably heard about Ossy Renardy when Renardy recorded for Victor. It is obvious that Laszlo Halasz was instrumental in contracting Renardy to perform for the Remington label. And Alice and Theodore Pashkus could have suggested to make recordings with Renardy already before they began producing the Young Violinist Series for Don Gabor. Paganini's Caprices with piano accompaniement and the Ravel and Franck Sonatas were most likely recorded in the Mastertone Recording Studios Inc. New York City, NY 10036. Specifically the Violin Sonatas disc shows Renardy's talent to the full. They are played with lyricism and passion, and with a beautifull sense of detail. The cooperation with Eugene List is examplary. Especially the Ravel Sonata gets an in depth performance.

Ossy Renardy (who had become a US citizen when enlisting in the Army in 1943) was killed in a car accident when on his way to a concert in Mexico and died on December 3, 1953. His accompanist of the concert, pianist George Robert, survived the crash and later pursued a successful career.

Rudolf A. Bruil - page first published in June, 2003, and updated since.



Copyright 1995-2011 by Rudolf A. Bruil