1898 to 1916 Musical beginnings

Samuel  Kutcher was born on  the 7th April   1898 at number 5 St. Mark Street  Whitechapel, London.  He was the  7th of 10 children born to Emanuel  and Anna Kutscher, both Jewish immigrants from Poland.  It is not known when Samuel’s musical talents were first recognized, but he began his violin studies at the age of six. (1)

Samuel along with all his brothers and sisters  were encouraged  to play a musical instrument. His eldest sister Rachel was a piano teacher. His elder brother  Saul  (Sid) a professional violinist in dance orchestras. Harry an amateur Chello player.  Sisters Sophie, Bessy and Lily  and the youngest sibling Israel were known to have played the piano.

As a result of a competition at the Trinity College of Music, Samuel  was awarded a scholarship for one year along with 10 other promising young musicians. (2) The scholarship  was renewed  in 1910. In 1911 he received free tuition and 1912 obtained a scholarship again.

1911 April Samuel aged  13 years – Trinity College of Music Concert

Richard Johnson on piano, Samuel Kutcher on violin, Giovanni Barbirolli on violoncello

Samuel Trinity College_web 800_600

Reviews of the Concert

Musical Times May 1st 1911 The School Musical Review Trinity College of Music“ The wide scope and useful character of the work of this well-established  institution were demonstrated at the excellent dinner given to examiners and local representatives at De Keyser’s Hotel on April 18.The guests came from near and far and the speeches told of the prospects of the College  and the influence it exerted throughout the Empire.  Sir Frederick Bridge presided, and in the course of his introductory speech dwelt upon the importance given to  music at the coming Coronation, and he bespoke the sympathy with him in fulfilling his onerous and honourable task. …… The music performed was well selected but the most notable contribution to the programme was the remarkably good performance of the ‘Molto Allegro, ed Agito’ from Mendelsson’s  D minor Pianoforte trio by three young boys: Richard Ball Johnson (pianoforte), Samuel Kutcher (violin) and Giovanni Barbirolli (violoncello), all pupils of the London branch of the College.The orchestral class gave a concert  at the Queen’s Hall on April 6th , at which the most striking achievement was that of the violinist Master Samuel Kutcher. “ Extract from the Biography of John Barbirolli by Charles Reid“As an eleven-year-old at Trinity College he fell in with another eleven-year-old, Samuel Kutcher, who was learning the violin. They took to each other at once, each agog about the other’s budding musicianship, and remained friends as well as colleagues for the next sixty years.With a third eleven year- old who played the piano they were picked to do the Molto allegro from Mendelssohn’s D minor Trio during a banquet interval at De Keyser’s Hotel (long since vanished) on the Embankment. The banquet was for musical examiners.The venerable Sir John Frederick Bridge presided over it. Bridge had first become a cathedral organist in the year public executions were abolished and, as Master of Music at Westminster Abbey, was that very month (May 1911) perfecting musical arrangements for the coronation of King George V. Bridge spoke graciously about the boys’ Mendelssohn, which meant a lot. Afterwards they were given as much ice-cream as they could eat, which meant more.”

Press Cuttings 1911 to  1912

Many of the early Press cuttings, which came from a book Samuel started in 1913,  did not note the name of the newspaper or date it was published.


“Trinity College of MusicThere were many interesting features in the students’ concert of Monday afternoon April 3rd. … Three clever little boys, Master Richard Johnson, Master Samuel Kutcher, and Giovanni Barbirolli gave a really excellent performance of the Molto Allegro ed Agitato from Mendelsson’s Trio for piano, violin and cello in D Minor. It was pleasing to note the fearless attack in which they commenced the trio ……….” . “Orchestral ConcertIt seems the authorities of the college know how to fill a hall, for there is hardly a vacant seat in the large auditorium of the Queen’s Hall, on Thursday, April 6. . The Orchestra under the directorship of Mr. Wilhelm Sachse was in excellent form…..
….. The violin solo of a wonderful small boy , Samuel Kutcher, who scarcely seemed big enough to wield the bow; but whose playing was excellent.. The tone if not very powerful , was equal his phrasing was very good, and in the cantabile showed a power of expression quite extraordinary in one so young.”
Another review said“…Of the violinists, two were heard. Master Samuel Kutcher, a lad apparently about eleven years old , essayed Vieuxtemps’ Ballade and Polonaise, Op.38 with the gay insouciance of his age. Though his tone is not yet large it is good, his intonation is excellent, and his bowing free, while he possesses a good sense of rhythm. His performance was so good as to hold out the highest hopes for the future.”Of the same Concert in another article entitled “Student InstrumentalistThe ‘Ballad of Polonaise’ of Vieuxtemps in which Master Samuel Kutcher undertook the solo part was so well rendered that the child artist roused the audience to quite an outburst of enthusiasm.”

Giovanni Barbirolli would later become one of the first members of the Kutcher String Quartet and a world famous conductor


Trinity College of Music“At the concert given by the students of the Trinity College of Music at Mandeville-Place ……. Far greater aplomb was displayed by Master Samuel Kutcher, a very young violinist, whose performance of Cappricio by Gade was remarkably good.” 1912 Febuary 10 Trinity College of MusicThe programme of the students’ concert on Monday afternoon at the Trinity College opened with an organ solo ……. Master Samuel Kutcher has often at these concerts displayed talent as a violinist, and that the youthful artist continues to advance was shown by his clever performance of Gade’s “Cappriccio”. Hendon Cottage Hospital“A concert was given by Miss E. B. Lawrence, of the Hyde at the Hendon Council Offices last night in aid of the funds of the Hendon King Edward Memorial Cottage Hospital……. Master Samuel Kutcher gave a violin solo, “Legend,” by Wienawski, and this juvenile prodigy, who played by permission of Trinity College gave evidence of his gifted control of the beautiful instrument at an early age.”


Samuel, taken from a photo of his sister’s (Rachel) wedding 1913


Barbirolli Cellist  age 14

Barbirolli Cellist age 14



Samuel moved to  the Guildhall School of Music where he studied the Auer method with his uncle,  Kalman Ronay, himself a well know violin player and teacher, and  nephew of Leopold Auer. (3)Only a card index (CLA/056/SN/01/10) remains of Samuel’s time at the school:Samuel Kutcher
35 White Lion Street, Norton Folgate
Subjects (and Professor):
Violin (Ronay)
Piano (G Smith)
C (Weston)
Orchestra (B)
(no one quite knows  what the C stood for or who B was)
The Auer Method Leopold Auer (1845 -1930) was a Hungarian violinist, teacher, conductor and composer. He is remembered as one of the most influential violin pedagogues, teaching many violinists who would later become famous.
When asked about the secret of his method he replied “…. The one great point I lay stress on in teaching is never to kill the individuality of my various pupils.
Each pupil has his own inborn aptitudes, his own personal qualities as regards tone and interpretation…. Art begins where technique ends. There can be no real are development before ones technique is firmly established….
….I do not believe that you can tell an Auer pupil by the manner in which he plays. And I am proud of it since it shows that my pupils have profited by my encouragement of individual development, and they become genuine artists, each with a personality of his own, instead of violinistic automats.” (4)

Samuel then 16 years old,  studied at the Royal Music School under Maurice Sons, a famous Dutch violinist and great interpreter of Bach and the classics.

1915 – 1916

At the age of 17 Samuel  joined the Queen’s Hall Orchestra under the baton  of Henry Wood as first violinist. (5)

Henry Wood made a recording with the Queen’s Hall Orchestra  of  Saint Saens  “ Dance Macabre”  and Raff’s Cavatina in this same year with an unnamed violin soloist. Columbia L1118  Matrices: 75259-2, 75256-2.  Recorded 1916, London.


The picture below shows Samuel as a young man in a recording studio (sitting front right side )  with Henry Wood conducting possibly Schubert Unfinished Symphony.

The letter is from a Scottish violinist Waldo Channon reminiscing on their days in the New Queen’s Hall Orchestra in 1915-16.

4 Responses to 1898 to 1916 Musical beginnings

  1. Anonymous says:

    Jeff – Leopold Auer had several sisters – do you know the maiden name of Samuel’s mother – or other ancestors – any other information that might help – may be there’s a connection – John

  2. Anonymous says:

    Do you know how Samuel Kutcher was related to Kalman Ronay – referred to as his Uncle – it seems unlikely as Kalman Ronay’s family and his siblings lived came from Hungary – I am not aware of any relatives who lived in Poland

    John Merrick

    • JeffKutcher says:

      Dear John,
      Samuel’s relationship to Kalman Ronay was written up in one of the Courtauld-Sargent Concert programmes of December 1932. However I have not yet found any connection in my genealogy research of the Kutcher family. Maybe the connection was through marriage of one of Samuel’s aunts?

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