Hungarian violinist, teacher and composer (b. 7 June 1845 [N.S.] in Veszprém, Austria-Hungary; d. 15 July 1930 in Loschwitz, Germany), born Auer Lipót; known in Russia as Leopold Semyonovich Auer (Леопольд Семенович Ауер).
Auer enrolled at the Budapest Conservatory at the age of eight, and later studied under Jakob Dont (1815–1888) and Joseph Joachim (1831–1907) in Hannover. In 1868, he was appointed by Anton Rubinstein as professor of violin at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, where he remained for almost half a century.
While in Saint Petersburg, Auer led the Russian Musical Society's string quartet (1868–1906), and conducted the society's orchestra (in 1883 and 1887–1892); Tchaikovsky originally intended to dedicate his Violin Concerto (1878) to Auer, but the violinist decided the concerto was too difficult and refused to play it. As a result of this public humiliation, the composer withdrew his dedications to Auer of both the concerto and the earlier Sérénade mélancolique (1876). Although the concerto went on to have great success, Auer did not play it until 1893, and not before making his own alterations (mainly cuts). It was in this abridged version that the concerto was played for much of the twentieth century.
In 1917 Auer left Russia, and the following year he settled in the United States, where he continued to teach and give concerts.
As noted above, two of Tchaikovsky's works were originally dedicated to Leopold Auer:
However, both dedications were withdrawn in 1881, following Auer's refusal to play the concerto.
Correspondence with Tchaikovsky
4 letters from Tchaikovsky to Leopold Auer have survived, dating from 1887 to 1890, all of which have been translated into English on this website:
- Letter 3404 – 17/29 November 1887, from Maydanovo
- Letter 3417 – 24 November/6 December 1887, from Maydanovo
- Letter 3423 – 30 November/12 December 1887, from Moscow
- Letter 4255 – 15/27 November 1890, from Saint Petersburg
5 letters from Auer to Tchaikovsky, dating from 1887 to 1892, are preserved in Tchaikovsky State Memorial Musical Museum-Reserve at Klin (a4, Nos. 132–136).