Tag Archives: violinist

Cabinet card of Czech virtuoso violinist Jan Kubelík

Violinist Jan Kubelík cabinet card by Mally, Chicago. Private Collection.

Violinist Jan Kubelík cabinet card by Mally, Chicago. Private Collection.

Jan Kubelík

BY Carl Sandburg

Your bow swept over a string, and a long low note quivered to the air.
(A mother of Bohemia sobs over a new child, perfect, learning to suck milk.)

Your bow ran fast over all the high strings fluttering and wild.
(All the girls in Bohemia are laughing on a Sunday afternoon in the hills with their lovers.)

When I came across this beautiful cabinet card I instantly recognized the violinist. This young man’s tousled hair is unmistakable and the pose is typical of him, his violin looking highly polished under his arm, his bow hanging low on his hand.

I’d previously written another post about Jan Kubelík last March, illustrated with a real photo postcard I don’t have in my collection.

Born July 5, 1880, Jan went on tour for the first time to the United States in 1901-02 when he was only 21 or 22, already an internationally renowned musician. This cabinet card was made on his first visit to Chicago.

Because Jan’s rising fame straddled the period when cabinet cards fell into disuse as real photo postcards took their place, cabinet cards of Jan are rare. There are more pictures of him on real photo postcards and I have not seen this particular pose before.

Here are two more shots of Jan from the same period I found online (he’s wearing the same style of slim overcoat on all his portraits):

A few fact about Jan Kubelík:

  • His recordings contributed greatly to the success of the gramophone.
  • He married a countess in 1903, Anna Julie Marie Széll von Bessenyö, had eight children with her and remained married to her until his death in 1940. All his children became musicians.
  • His sixth child, son Rafael Kubelik, became an internationally renowned conductor, violinist and pianist in his own right. In 1950 he became director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
  • In spring 1912 Jan performed a concert of painter Jean Dominique Ingres’ favorite musical pieces on the deceased artist’s violin (who knew the painter could play too?). This recital inspired attending French painter Georges Braque to paint Violin: “Mozart Kubelick” (sic). A year later the painting was included in the Armory Show, the exhibition that introduced modern art to America. The painter had misspelled the violinist’s name, giving rise to puns about cubist Braque being the one who put the “cube in Kubelik” and the “art in Mozart”.

Photographer: Mally. 570 W. 13th St. Chicago. For reference, Mally is the same studio as Prencel & Mally found on other Chicago based cabinet cards.

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Joe Lucas playing pizzicato on his violin

Joe Lucas playing pizzicato. RPPC. Private Collection.

Joe Lucas playing pizzicato. RPPC. Private Collection.

A beautiful picture worth bringing back to life. I posted this one long ago on tumblr but acquired it since, so this is the newly scanned and restored version with the original below.

Here’s an amusing thought: to me Joe looks not like a young Marlon Brando, but like a young version of the Godfather played by Marlon.

joe-lucas-violinist-original

RPPC: AZO 1904-1918


The bright eyed Edwardian violinist in the snow

Violinist in the snow. RPPC. Private Collection.

Violinist in the snow. RPPC. Private Collection.

This musician in his late teens has impossibly light eyes, accentuated by the bright lights of the snow covered yard or street. A beautiful portrait of him posing with his instrument.

A close up:

Detail. Private Collection.

Detail. Private Collection.

RPPC: AZO 1904-1918


Hey, Charlie!

I'm famous

I’m famous…so famous! Photo taken circa 1910.

Three more portraits and a bit on his life after the cut.

Continue reading


The boy violinist in pajamas

Velox Snapshot. Private Collection.

Velox Snapshot. Private Collection.

A candid of a curly haired boy violinist in pajamas sitting in contre-jour by a tall and narrow window.

There’s some light reflection to the bottom, some fog and a ghost-like anomaly…maybe cigarette smoke…maybe not.

Creative Commons License
Digital restoration work titled The Boy Violinist In Pajamas by Caroline C. Ryan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Czech violinist Jan Kubelík

RPPC. Personal Collection.

RPPC.Circa 1900.

Jan Kubelik was born in 1880 and died in 1940. His father was an amateur violinist who taught him how to play. By age five, young Jan was found to have talent and received professional lessons. He’s said to have practiced 10-12 hours a day until his fingers bled. His efforts paid off. By the age of eighteen he was touring as a soloist in London and Vienna, and by twenty-one he toured the U.S. Some of his recordings are said to have contributed to the success of the gramophone.

In 1903 he married a countess and had eight children with her, all became violinists.


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