I am delighted to report that just prior to the holidays the extensive process of transferring the vast majority of my personal and professional memorabilia, correspondence, documents, recordings, photos, and music, etc. to the PRIMROSE INTERNATIONAL VIOLA ARCHIVES……. has officially begun.
The first document to be gifted (and one of my personal favorites from the collection) is my grandfather’s Graduation Diploma from the Prague Conservatory, dated 1903. This document, virtually in perfect condition, is of significant historic value for several reasons. First, this two-sided document is visually dramatic and quite unique. Second, and probably the most fascinating element, is the fact that it contains the original signatures of all of my grandfather’s professors, including that of his composition mentor, and then Director of the Conservatory, Antonin Dvorak! Interestingly, Dvorak signed this document only nine months before his death.
( See photos below)
My grandfather, Wilhelm von Winterfeld was really quite a fascinating character. Born in 1880 in Petrovaradin, Hungary, his parents were of a Saxon noble family which had resided in the Swabia area along the Danube for three generations.
In 1898 Wilhelm began his studies at the Prague Conservatory where he matured into a successful violinist, pianist and composer. In addition to studying composition with Dvorak at the conservatory, his violinistic skills developed under the guidance of world renowned pedagogue, Otakar Sevcik.
In 1904, after receiving his diploma (now part of the permanent PIVA Collection) he joined the faculty of the Bydgoszcz Conservatory. By 1912 he had become Director of that institution and a highly respected conductor. With the outbreak of WW I he found himself metamorphosed into an infantry officer in the Austro-Hungarian army serving primarily on the front lines.
Amazingly, he survived the war relatively unscathed. Returning to his post at the Bydgoszcz Conservatory, now, BARON von Winterfeld quickly became a prominent musical figure of the interwar period.
Interestingly, my own personal musical genealogy does not actually derive biologically from Grandpa Wilhelm. I know…it’s kind of a complicated story. SO….here is the simplified version:
My actual birth paternal grandfather was the Baron von Mosl, supposedly one of a number of illegitimate children of the House of Hapsburgs. Not long after my father’s sixth birthday, my noble grandfather chose to abandon his immediate family, riding off into the sunset with my father’s governess!
Approximately one year later my grandmother met Wilhelm, marrying him shortly thereafter. I guess it was at that moment the elements that ultimately led to my life as a musician were truly set in motion. My dad bonded quickly with his new father and before long the violin had became an important part of his life.
Eventually changing his name from Viktor von Mosl to Viktor von Winterfeld, my father graduated first from the Bydgoszcz Conservatory and ultimately from the Academy of Music in Berlin. According to some materials I have discovered recently, supposedly since 1934 (my dad would have been 22 years old at that time) my father and grandfather performed all over Europe together including such cities as Rome, Naples, Milan, and London to name a few. It appears that between 1934 and 1939 ( the year my father came to the United States ) Viktor was Concertmaster of the Royal Opera House in Zagreb as well as a professor at the Royal Academy of Music.
Due in part to the extensive traveling my father had done during those years, the prospects of another World War became very real to him. Fortunately his decision to undertake a voyage to the United States for the purpose of attending the “1939 World’s Fair” proved extremely timely.
Ultimately faced with the opportunity to apply for citizenship here in the U.S. he was forced to undergo a bit of soul-searching when it came to the actual name to be used on his application. On one hand…he loved his step-father very much and truly thought of himself as “Viktor von Winterfeld”. On the other hand…he had maintained some communications with his birth father over the years and was aware that the Baron von Mosl had already moved to the United States by 1939. So…would it be more appropriate for him to file under his original name of Viktor von Mosl????
Alas, the big dilemma was resolved when my Dad made the decision to create a brand new name in an effort to avoid upsetting either father.
Hence…the birth of “Victor de Veritch”!