Violin Virtuoso Toscha Seidel, And Famed Dog Hector, Lived in Pelham
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Toscha Seidel was a Russian-born violin virtuoso who came to the United States in the late 1920s. He settled for a short time in Pleasantville, New York, but by about late 1929 he moved to Pelham where he resided for at least the next decade.
Born on November 17, 1899 in Odessa, Ukraine, Russia, Seidel became a student of the great violinist Leopold Auer in St. Petersburg in 1912 and studied with him until 1918. Once he emigrated to the United States he married Estelle Manheim of San Francisco on January 1, 1929. Estelle Manheim graduated from the University of California where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree and taught in California before the couple married.
Soon after the couple moved to Pelham, Toscha Seidel became a radio celebrity. He became known to millions of radio listeners through his performances on the weekly "Toscha Seidel Program" broadcast by the Columbia Broadcasting System. During summer months he performed on Sunday afternoons at 3:00 p.m. on the CBS Symphonic Hour as a soloist. Seidel rose to the rank of musical director of the Columbia Broadcasting System and as chairman of the CBS musical advisory board.
In 1924, Seidel purchased the so-called Da Vinci Stradivarius, a violin crafted by the great master in about 1714. The violin was so-named because its owner in 1865 "compared it in beauty of tone to one of Da Vinci's beautiful paintings." Seidel kept the famed violin in a safe at the CBS Studios.
According to several sources, in 1934, while living in Pelham, Seidel gave violin instruction to Albert Einstein who reportedly gave him, in return, a sketch diagramming the length contraction aspect of his general theory of relativity.
As if such claims to fame were not enough, Toscha and Estelle Seidel of Stellar Avenue in the Village of Pelham Manor were famous throughout Pelham for one additional reason. They were the owners of "Hector," a monumentally-large Great Dane that lounged on the couple's front doorstep surveying his kingdom. According to an article published in The Pelham Sun on July 8, 1932, Hector was:
"a perfect war lord of a Great Dane, one hundred-and-seventy pounds of him, stretching his powerful length across a doorstep -- that is the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Seidel. And the Great Dane in question is Hector, brother of Lindy, the National Champion. As we looked at Hector we felt it could be nothing but the merest accident that prevented him from being the Champion himself and we speculated idly as to just what kind of a fellow his brother could be."
During the 1930s, Toscha Seidel also performed in a number of Hollywood productions including the movies "Intermezzo," "Apomethe," and "Melody for Three." The very brief clip immediately below shows Toscha Seidel performing a portion of Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Johannes Brahms in the movie "Apomethe."
According to one brief biography of Toscha Seidel: "Seidel performed on violins by Antonio Stradivari "Da Vinci" 1712 (now known as the Ex-Seidel), Giovanni Battista Guadagnini 1786 (now known as the Ex-Seidel), as well as copy of the "Alard Stradivari" by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume 1860. He died on November 15, 1962." Source: "Toscha Seidel" in Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia (visited Dec. 17, 2016).
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Below is the text of an article and an image published with it that form the basis for today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog. Each is followed by a citation and link to its source.
at the Seidel residence on Stellar avenue, Pelham Manor.
Source: Leary, Margaret, Toscha Seidel Talks Of $60,000
Violins, Dogs And The Suburbs In His Pelham Manor,
The Pelham Sun, Jul. 8, 1932, p. 5, cols. 2-4. NOTE: Click
on Image to Enlarge.
"Toscha Seidel Talks Of $60,000 Violins, Dogs And The Suburbs In His Pelham Manor
By Margaret Leary
Other times, other manners, indeed! It isn't only fashions in women's headgear and the like that change. Fashions in musicians change, too. Take Toscha Seidel, the celebrated violinist for example. Perhaps one has a mental picture of the usual long, black waving hair, unviolated by the barber's shears, the funeral black tie and the general dreamy, abstracted expression that one associates with the French romantic poets who so loved to contemplate the grave. Nothing in the world could be further from the truth. Mr. Seidel is a young, energetic person, and when the reporter from The Pelham Sun visited him, wore white flannels and could easily have been mistaken for any other innocent suburbanite enjoying the coolness of his Pelham Manor home on a July afternoon.
If one strolls along Stellar avenue and happens to see a perfect war lord of a Great Dane, one hundred-and-seventy pounds of him, stretching his powerful length across a doorstep -- that is the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Seidel. And the Great Dane in question is Hector, brother of Lindy, the National Champion. As we looked at Hector we felt it could be nothing but the merest accident that prevented him from being the Champion himself and we speculated idly as to just what kind of a fellow his brother could be.
If one asks Mr. Seidel about Hector, showing any interest, he will bring out the dog's pedigree which is all properly framed and hangs on the wall of his office in his home.
Mr. Seidel, who is thirty-two-years old, is animated and quick, both physically and mentally, the visitor soon feels. He was born in Odessa, Russia, and has studied the violin since he was a child of seven. The late Professor Leopold Auer, who died in 1930, was his teacher from 1912 to 1918.
Mr. Seidel is known to millions of listeners through his radio programs. He is musical director of the Columbia Broadcasting System and is heard on weekly 'Toscha Seidel' program. He is also chairman of the musical advisory board. In the summer months he is heard as soloist on the Symphonic Hour on Sundays at three o'clock. He has a few very advanced pupils but the majority of his time is devoted to his radio work.
He has been around the world on concert tours and his hobby is bacteriology! Who said musicians didn't have brains? Hoffman, the pianist is interested in mechanics. Mr. Seidel told us and he seemed to think it not at all strange that he found pleasure in hours of study at the Rockefeller Institute.
On New Year's Day, 1929, Mr. Sediel married Estelle Manheim of San Francisco. Mrs. Seidel was graduated from the University of California where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree and taught in California before her marriage.
'Is Mrs. Seidel a musician,' we asked, and chuckled at the quick and amused response.
'No, thank heaven!' There was no possibility of misunderstanding the spirit back of it.
Mrs. Seidel appreciates music, needless to say, but she is not a creative artist. One is usually considered enough for a household, we remarked. Incidentally we had the pleasure of meeting the lady in question later and admired her poised and gracious air. Before coming to Pelham Manor about two and a half years ago the family lived in Pleasantville.
'Do you like Pelham Manor?' we felt it our duty to ask and were told that the violinist does like it. Likes its quiet atmosphere and his charming neighbors.
Mr. Seidel is the possessor of a rare and very valuable violin, the 'Da Vinci Stradivarius.' It was made in 1714and has been in the possession of Mr. Seidel since 1924. The value of this exquisite instrument which the artist uses constantly is estimated at $60,000. Most of the time it is kept in a safe at the Studio in New York. Monsier [sic] Chardon who owned the violin in 1865 compared it in beauty of tone to one of Da Vinci's beautiful paintings.
Mr. Seidel naturally is much interested in radio and its possibilities and in the changes that the advent of television may make in its future development. He brings to his conversation a touch of imagination and vision and a quick good humour.
On July 11th Mr. and Mrs. Seidel will leave for Lake Placid where they will spend a two weeks' vacation with Mr. Carl Goldmark. The violinist will be heard on the radio again on Sunday the 31st, after his vacation.
Hector, on his good behavior exhibited company manners as we left and very gravely lifted his right forepaw. We took it respectfully, feeling that we had received an accolade, at least!"
Source: Leary, Margaret, Toscha Seidel Talks Of $60,000 Violins, Dogs And The Suburbs In His Pelham Manor, The Pelham Sun, Jul. 8, 1932, p. 5, cols. 2-4.
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