TURI'S POPPA by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino


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At one time the overseers of the Violin-Making Institute in Cremona, lacking an Italian qualified to take over the directorship, wrote to a Hungarian graduate who, being in straitened circumstances, walked to Cremona with his young son. From this incident, related in the foreword, Mrs. de Trevino has fashioned a quiet little story-quiet despite the deprivation that Turi and his father face in Budapest (?) after his mother's lingering death has wiped out their savings, despite the danger from border guards that threatens anyone who travels without papers; little not because of its length but because of its narrow scope. In the virtual absence of a plot, the changing relationship between Turi and Poppa is the focal point: Turi, who has learned a thing or two from his mother's gypsy family, takes the initiative in the early stages or the journey, sometimes differing with his father over propriety, but Poppa toughens up, lies when he must, and so assumes leadership. Once arrived in Cremona they suffer a setback: the board of the Institute will not accept this ragged stranger as Istvan Hubay until he proves his skill. The trial violin made, Mischa Elman, in the city for a concert, adds his endorsement. There is considerable overt moralizing: there are also song glimpses of the gypsies as unabashed individualists, it comes out even--and it's too even (i.e. undramatic) altogether to interest most children.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1968
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux