She started playing the violin at the age of three, debuted professionally at 12 and, at 20, won the prestigious József Szigeti International Violin Competition in Budapest. Now, at 32, Erika Raum (Mus Bac Perf 1993) is a performer, recording artist and teacher of international renown. Even so, she prefers to think of herself as “a late bloomer” who believes the best is yet to come.
“There’s a whole other level of potential that doesn’t start to reveal itself until you’re in your 20s,” she says. “The best violinists are still on the upswing in their 40s, 50s and 60s.” As a child, in fact, Raum hated practising as much as other mortals. “But I loved to play,” she remembers enthusiastically. “I used to hold pretend concerts for my stuffed animals.”
Raum was strongly influenced by her parents: father Richard is a trombonist, and mother Elizabeth is a composer (she has written two concertos for her daughter) and oboist. “On the one hand I wasn’t eager to practise but on the other, music was just such a part of my daily life. I couldn’t have existed without it.”
Raum has recorded one CD with internationally acclaimed pianist Anton Kuerti and another is in the works. She also maintains a busy touring schedule throughout North America and much of Europe. Teaching is also an extremely important part of Raum’s life: she currently holds positions at U of T’s Faculty of Music and The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.
On this spring day she is mourning the passing of Professor Emeritus Lorand Fenyves, who was her teacher at U of T’s Faculty of Music and a “musical father” to many violinists. Fenyves, who died in March at the age of 86, only got better with age, says Raum. “One of the things that made him great was that there was no end to his growth – it didn’t stop.” Both teacher and pupil are proof that the spark of youth can sometimes give way to a warm and constant flame.