A remarkable musician, Erica Morini (Vienna 1904- New York 1995) left few interviews about her life and experience. She was extremely forthcoming on the phone when I asked her about her concerts with pianist Ignaz Friedman in 1928. So much more to cover but she excused herself and regretted her apartment was not in decent shape to be visited.
Morini passed away soon after our talk and it made the news mainly due to the theft of her Stradivarius kept in an apartment closet while she had been hospitalized, a pathetic event unknown to her. One could steal her instrument but not her art, which seemed lost. Contact with the 90-year-old Frederic Waldman,
a Viennese conductor who had Morini often as soloist, led to the discovery of several concertos they performed in the 1960s (published by Arbiter on CDs 106, 107, 128, and 151)
It was frustrating to do justice to these documents without knowing much about her. References in books and the press came up short, except for one sole interview given a half century earlier that did little to explore her world.
One day I was gripped by an urgent sensation, a burning in the neck, with a message repeatedly flashing: “Call Nanette Levy! Call Nanette Levy!”
It was puzzling: Levy taught violin at Mannes College and was once pointed out while us students awaited our auditorium doors to open and this lady happen to pass by. This was in 1972, some twenty-four years earlier and her name and presence hadn’t been encountered since. Unable to silence to voice I located her phone number and asked, if, ahem, she knew of Erica Morini. “Erica was one of my closest friends! We played chamber music together in a quartet for years after she retired!” Levy and her husband, the cellist William Harry, recorded many of their practice sessions, and in such friendly company, Morini opened up about her life, which Levy and Harry recorded. Their lengthy interview is divided into several segments below.
part one – enter the violin:
part two – studies with Ševčík:
part three – on her recordings:
part four – colleagues: