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Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts will be rededicated as Marian Anderson Hall, home of The Philadelphia Orchestra

Davyd Booth

Musicians Behind the Scenes: Davyd Booth

Posted by:  The Philadelphia Orchestra on March 03, 2020

Davyd Booth Violin

Where were you born? I was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

What piece of music could you hear over and over again? Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion.

What is your most treasured possession? Either my violin or my husband, Carlos.

What’s your favorite Philadelphia restaurant? La Viola. I’ve never had anything there that I didn’t love. It is so consistently good.

Tell us about your instrument. I have two violins made by Sergio Peresson. At one time there were 36 of his instruments in The Philadelphia Orchestra. I also have a French violin by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume from 1861.

What’s in your instrument case? My violin and four bows, the usual equipment for a violinist, and quite a few pictures including one taken with the great pianist Martha Argerich, who is one of my idols and someone I got to know when she performed with us many times.

If you could ask one composer one question what would it be? I would love to ask Rachmaninoff why he wrote no large works for solo violin. I so love all the piano works and it is odd that he was such close friends with Fritz Kreisler but never wrote a sonata or a concerto for solo violin. How sad and frustrating.

What piece of music never fails to move you? Anything by Bach. There is so much great music and I love so much music, but Bach is definitely in a class of his own especially when it comes to moving me.

When did you join the Orchestra? In 1973. Virtually the first thing that I did, other than subbing a bit during the summer, was go on the famous first China trip. I am now one of four people left in the Orchestra from that original trip.

Do you play any instruments? I am also the Orchestra’s second keyboard player and harpsichordist. I’ve played virtually all the keyboard instruments at one time or another with the Orchestra including the accordion. One of my most treasured moments was playing the accordion part in the Theme from The Godfather at an Academy of Music Anniversary Concert conducted by Yannick, in which the guest artist was Al Pacino.

What’s your favorite type of food? I really love all food but if forced to narrow it down to one it would probably be Italian.

What books are on your nightstand? Right now a book called The Nightingale’s Sonata, which is the story of a famous violin teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music, Lea Luboshutz. Fascinating information about the whole music scene in Philadelphia in the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s.

Do you speak any other languages? I am totally mono lingual unfortunately.

Do you follow any blogs? Yes, I follow quite a few blogs such as the music blogs Slipped Disc and the Violin Channel, and also quite a few plant blogs and autograph collecting blogs.

Do you have any hobbies? I have two green houses and grow about 4,000 orchids and quite a few other varieties of plants. I’m a real plant freak. I also a collector of classical music CDs and LPs, having over 40,000 items. And I also collect autographs, of which I have about 6,000.

Do you have a favorite movie?I love movies and go to them constantly. If I had to choose one movie I would probably say Titanic. I saw it eight times and it was thrilling every time. I also happen to love the soundtrack.

Is there a piece of music that isn’t in the standard orchestral repertoire that should be? There are many, many pieces that should be played. There is just so much great classical music and a huge amount of it does not get heard nearly as often as it should. Right now if I had a name a piece it would be the Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Mozart by Max Reger. We have played that only a few times, with Wolfgang Sawallisch and with Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. It’s a great piece and should be played and heard more frequently.

What’s the last recording you purchased? CD or download? I am always buying things. The last was a four-CD set of the great German soprano Lotte Lehmann.

What’s on your iPod? I don’t have an iPod but I am currently going through all 550 Scarlatti harpsichord sonatas. I’m up to about 450. It’s an amazing thing to listen to.

When was the first time you heard The Philadelphia Orchestra? I first heard the Orchestra when I came to Philadelphia in 1968 to go to school at the New School of Music. Of course I had heard about The Philadelphia Orchestra, particularly the sound of the strings, and I was familiar with it from the time I was a kid with LPs that my family had. Although, of course, I was struck by the sound of the strings the thing that really blew me away was the sound of the double bass section. It was so resonant I could actually feel it throughout my body. It was, and still remains, amazing.

Other than Verizon Hall, where is your favorite place to perform? Without a doubt one of my favorite places to play is Carnegie Hall. The sound there is incredibly warm and adds to the great luster of the sound of the Orchestra. It’s a hall that has a personality and sound all of its own. Playing there and hearing the sound around me is an absolutely astonishing experience every time we are there.

Photo by Jessica Griffin

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