With his razor-sharp mind and crystal-clear analysis, Carl Flesch revolutionized the technique of violin playing in a lasting way. He lived in Baden-Baden from 1926 to 1935. During these years, his villa on Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse became the meeting place for a whole generation of virtuosos.
One of Carl Flesch's students, during this period, was the French violinist Ginette Neveu, who rose to world fame in the late 1930s and is considered one of the most important violinists of her time. Ginette Neveu died in a tragic plane crash in the Azores in 1949. To this day, in her honor, the German-French Society Baden-Baden awards the Ginette Neveu Award at the Carl Flesch Academy, endowed with 500 €.
In Germany, the important work of Carl Flesch, a Jew from Hungary, came to a sad end when the Nazis seized power: Dismissal from the Berlin Academy of Music in 1934 and withdrawal of German citizenship in 1935. Carl Flesch fled with his family and nine eventful years followed that took him to London, The Hague, Budapest and Lucerne. In 1943, at the Lucerne Conservatory, he was allowed to teach again for the first time. Carl Flesch died in 1944.
Henryk Szeryng — another of Carl Flesch's world-famous students — revived Carl Flesch's teaching tradition in a summer course in 1964, together with the Baden-Baden Philharmonic and its then General Music Director Carl August Vogt.
In 1981, under the umbrella of the Baden-Baden Philharmonic — now with General Music Director Werner Stiefel as artistic director — the first Carl Flesch Academy took place.
For more than four decades, the academy brought the elite of international young string players to Baden-Baden. With the participation of first-class pedagogues and soloists, the concept of the courses was constantly further developed.
To this day, a Carl Flesch Academy award endowed with 2,000 € is dedicated to the founding father Werner Stiefel.
The biggest leap in the further development of the academy concept is taking place in 2023:
Arndt Joosten, Managing Director of the Baden-Baden Philharmonic, took over the management of the Carl Flesch Academy; Heiko Mathias Förster, the new Principal Conductor of the Baden-Baden Philharmonic, was appointed the overall director of the Academy; and the internationally renowned violinist Kirill Troussov was won as artistic director. Above all, the new trio addresses the changes in the classical music scene in the age of the Internet.
Additionally, living, learning and making music will be moved to a new location in 2023 and united under one roof at the Lichtenthal Abbey. The master-class concept has been significantly expanded and, for the first time, video recordings of all concerts are planned. The administration of the academy is also undergoing change and — along with a new website — has been largely digitized.
We may be curious which chapters in the history of the Carl Flesch Academy will be written in the future.
In the 40 years since its founding, more than 3,000 musicians have taken part in master-classes at the Carl Flesch Academy. Today, some thirty former "Fleschis" play in the orchestra of the Berlin Philharmonic alone. Others have found their way into high positions in other orchestras, professorships at music schools, or exciting solo careers. Here is a small excerpt: