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Release: Nov. 9, 2001

Violinist Leopold La Fosse Celebrates 30th Year At UI Nov. 18

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Violinist Leopold La Fosse will celebrate his 30th year on the University of Iowa faculty with music he has often played and come to respect over the years -- the violin sonatas of Hungarian composer Bela Bartok -- in a recital with Brazilian pianist Paulo Sergio Alvares, at 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

Their performance will be free and open to the public.

La Fosse and Alvares will play Bartok's first and second sonatas for violin and piano and the Rhapsody for violin and piano.

"For a number of years I have considered the Bartok Sonatas for violin and piano as being among the most significant works for violin and piano of the 20th century," La Fosse said. "Years of listening and my own performing experiences have not changed my opinion."

As for his 30 years at the UI, "As has been stated, 'Time flies!'," La Fosse said, "and here we are!"

During his earlier years at the UI, La Fosse had often performed the Bartok sonatas with John Simms, late piano faculty member at the School of Music. His collaboration with Simms was important, because it allowed La Fosse to learn a performance tradition that went directly back to the composer.

"Simms had performed the sonatas with Imry Waldbauer, who had played them with Bartok," La Fosse explained. "I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in that tradition. It was very helpful, too, because Bartok was very finicky about writing tempo changes. In many cases there are changes from measure to measure, and when you realize that it actually represents a gypsy fiddle style of playing, there is a kind of freedom as opposed to trying to duplicate the changes rigidly."

More recently, La Fosse has played the Bartok sonatas with other pianists, including Alvares, whom he met in the 1980s when he was visiting Brazil as a Fulbright professor. They performed concerts together in Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, often including the Bartok sonatas in their programs. La Fosse then later played the two Bartok sonatas with Alvares as a part of the pianist's master's degree recital at Texas Christian University.

Bartok wrote his two sonatas for violin and piano in the early 1920s. At the time, he was becoming an internationally known composer and pianist, and he embarked on a series of concert tours through Europe. He visited London and Paris in 1922 with British violinist Jelly d'Aranyi, performing the First Violin Sonata. On this trip Bartok met the leading musicians in the French capital, including Stravinsky, Ravel, Milhaud, Poulenc and Satie.

The next year he was in London with d'Aranyi, playing the Second Sonata. From then on he made regular recital tours of Germany, the Netherlands, England, Switzerland, Italy, Czechoslovakia and Romania -- as many as two or three tours each season.

La Fosse joined the UI music faculty in 1972. His performing career has included extensive solo appearances as well as concertmaster positions with five orchestras. La Fosse grew up in a musical family: his father and paternal grandfather were violinists, his mother was a concert and pianist and her father was a concert organist. He began studying violin at the age of three and made his first public appearance at the age of four. At eight he began a three-year series of engagements on NBC radio. He later studied at the New England Conservatory. Before coming to the UI he taught at the University of Texas at Austin.

At the UI he teaches violin and directs a group of students devoted to the performance of Baroque and early Classic music, the La Fosse Baroque Ensemble. He has also done extensive research in string pedagogy. He has twice been to Brazil as a Fulbright lecturer and returns annually to perform, teach and give master classes.

La Fosse continues an active international career as soloist and chamber musician, with tours in the United States, Europe, South America and Russia. He has had performances at Wigmore Hall in London, Sala Cecilia Mireles in Rio de Janeiro, Town Hall in New York, and the National Gallery, Phillips Gallery and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In 1997 he celebrated his 25th anniversary on the UI faculty with a series of four recitals displaying his versatility, appearing as a virtuoso soloist, a chamber musician, a Baroque performance specialist and a jazz violinist.

Alvares was born in Brazil and received his undergraduate degree in Sao Paulo. He came to the United States to study at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, and spent a short period of time at the UI as a student of visiting faculty member Caio Pagano. Later he went to Cologne, Germany, to pursue his interest in contemporary music, and he received several prizes in performance competitions there.

He currently maintains an intense schedule of contemporary music performances and participation in numerous festivals in Europe, South America and the United States. He has worked with conductors Luciano Berio, Maurice Kagel and Semyon Bychkov, and composers Karlheinz Stockhausen, Helmut Lachenmann and Wolfgang Rihm, among many others. He is a faculty member of the Superior School of Music in Cologne where he leads the Ensemble for Aleatoric Music.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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