Life - Part 4

Several years go by. The album pages are turned. And now we see how the opened photograph almost palpably gives off a stream of sadness. Not even sadness but grief. Huge, sorrowful eyes that look straight at us through a soft focus portrait lens. A white collar. A violin.

This photo has an interesting story to tell: it was made in a Riga studio and hung there, as we are told by eyewitnesses, for a great many years, amidst portraits of actors and other celebrities. Even when the boy with the violin had already grown up. It was there when he won the first prize in the International Queen Elisabeth Competition. And even when he and his family emigrated abroad from the show window of the photo studio in the center of the city the sad child still peered out, his head slightly tilted, reminding us somewhat  of the infant Christ or characteristic of oil painting reproductions of holy subjects. The photographer was a master of his trade… People say that during the first post-war years Riga was an oasis of old handicraft mastery amidst the scornful ways of Soviet reality.

Family legend tells us that the boy did not want to be photographed. What was he thinking about the violin in his hands, how accidental was this grief-filled expression – no one can find out any longer. But all those who remember Hirshhorn say the same thing: that in his childhood he wanted to play the piano, that he later never forgot that and often spoke about that. Why did he take up precisely the violin?  His parents were asked that question, and they replied that a violin is more convenient, that you can take it with you in order to practice on holiday and when traveling.