He may have played second fiddle to his contemporary Stéphane Grappelli. But it wasn’t because Svend Asmussen was a lesser talent. He played with jazz greats, too, like Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Fats Waller.
Critics admired Asmussen for his classical proficiency as well as his jazz chops. In a review cited in an obituary in The Washington Post, critic Will Friedlander called his performance of a baroque chamber work by Telemann “completely straight and breathtakingly moving.” He was also admired for his performance on a Duke Ellington’s Jazz Violin Session, recorded in Paris in 1963. The session featured Asmussen playing dueling violins with Grappelli and Ellington-regular Ray Nance.
Danish-born Asmussen was often compared to countryman Victor Borge for his whimsical stage presence. Music and humor obviously agreed with Asmussen (February 28, 1916-February 7, 2017): he lived to be 100.