WHEN ELMAN WAS POOR.
Charles Grossman Was a Childhood
Playmate of the Violinist.
There is one person in Kansas City who is awaiting with unusual interest the coming of Mischa Elman, the violinist who will be heard here in concert for the first time at the Willis Wood next Friday afternoon. He is Charles Grossman of 3212 Charlotte street, a young sketch writer, who was a childhood playmate of Elman and shared his clothes and even meals with the infant prodigy, destined to be one of the world's greatest violinists. Elman's father was a man of brilliant education but desperately poor and lived next door to the Grossmans. The younger Grossman is eagerly awaiting the violinist's coming to exchange reminiscences with him. They have not met for a dozen years and in the meantime the 7-year-old concertist of the parting has become at 19 one of the wonderful players of all time.
"I am two years older than Elman," said Mr. Grossman yesterday. "I well recall the time when I first heard little Mischa play his father's violin at the age of 4 years. In my childish way I thought to have him punished and I told his father he was playing the instrument, which was about the only thing of value in the Elman home. The father was at first angry, but soon recognized the hitherto unsuspected skill of his son. He had no means to educate him, however, but my father gave him his first start by placing him under teachers in our home town of Tolnoe. Later he was sent to Schapola where a Jewish millionaire named Bodsky became interested in him and sent him to Odessa, where Professor Auer of the St. Petersburg conservatory took him up. the story of his phenomenal rise is history, but I know that he will be glad to see his playmate of the old days. He was the guest of my brothers in New York, one of whom is a rabbi and the other an attorney. I hope to have Elman as my guest next week.
"Incidentally I do not see why Elman should be called the Russian violinist. He is a Jew and though the czar himself has given him a medal and other honors Russia is the prosecutor of this race, and Elman himself was not allowed by law to live in St. Petersburg until he had secured the august permission of the czar."
Young Grossman himself bids fair to attain a high degree of success in his chosen profession and may yet be a dramatist who will shed luster on the Jewish race, as he is already the author of many successful plays.