Life - Part 21


• By a strange coincidence, the final payment on the mortgage for the house which Hirshhorn bought for his parents was made in the last month of his life, November 1996.

• He loved to collect mushrooms and was a master at it.

• He was a virtuoso driver who could steer the wheel with his pinky, hated traffic jams, knew all the alternative routes around a blockage.

• One of the violinists whom Hirshhorn appreciated highly was Roby Lakatos. When Lakatos worked in Brussels in a restaurant, Hirshhorn took all his guests to hear him.

• He also loved Carlos Gardel (tango).

• He managed to “bless” Vadim Repin for whom he had great respect. When Repin won the first prize in the Queen Elisabeth International Competition, Hirshhorn was a member of the jury and his signature appears on the winner’s certificate.  He participated in the jury twice, in 1989 and 1993.

• And when in 1983 Pierre-Alain Volondat won the competition for pianists, Hirshhorn, who saw him on television, hopped into his car in the middle of the night and drove off to congratulate him.

• He could not live without the North Sea and used every opportunity to be there, whatever the weather.

• He transposed for violin and piano the Shostakovich sonata for viola and performed it at concerts.

• While he was alive, not a single solo album was issued, only his performances of chamber music – the quartets and trio of Brahms, and the Lekeu sonata.

• In order to begin to teach in Brussels, Hirshhorn first had to pass an exam in the Flemish language. (In Belgium everything is divided into French and Flemish, including the conservatory.)  There they started talking with him not about music but about shipbuilding. Philippe then joked that if it were not for Peter the Great, thanks to whom such words as ‘mast’ and ‘flag’ entered the Russian language, he would never have seen the inside of the Brussels Conservatory. 

• His favorite eau de Cologne was “Eau Sauvage.”

• He always smoked Marlboro cigarettes.

• He could watch tennis on television from morning to night.

• He hated to write letters.

• He loved the poems of Paul Verlaine.

• At cards, he loved to play canasta (in Riga they called this game “kun-ken”).

• But in Holland he could spend his evenings playing Sjoelbak – an ancient Dutch game.