Saturday, February 21, 2009

Zvi Zeitlin

Zvi Zeitlin is a Russian violinist and teacher born (in Dubrovna, Belarus) on February 21, 1923. Zeitlin is known for his robust and clean sound. He first studied with his father but from age 11, he studied at the Juilliard School (New York) with Sascha Jacobsen, Ivan Galamian, and Louis Persinger - at the time, he was the youngest scholarship recipient ever admitted to Juilliard.  Sarah Chang now holds that distinct honor.  He later studied in Jerusalem (Hebrew University) where he made his debut in 1940. He was 17 years old.  Louis Persinger and Ivan Galamian are famous for having taught some of the world's leading violinists - Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Ruggiero Ricci, Michael Rabin, Eugene Fodor, Pinchas Zukerman, and Itzhak Perlman are among them.  Zeitlin's U.S. debut was made in New York's Town Hall in 1951. He first played with the New York Philharmonic, with which he appeared numerous times, on February 2, 1961.  He chose the Stravinsky concerto on that occasion.  Also in 1961, Zeitlin made his London debut. Since the early 1950s, Zeitlin has concertized extensively throughout the world. He played world premieres of concertos by Gunther Schuller, Paul Ben-Haim, and Carlos Surinach.  As far as I know, he is still on the faculty of the Eastman School where he first began teaching in 1967. From 1976 to 1982 he played with the Eastman (Piano) Trio, of which he was a founding member. He plays a 1734 Guarnerius del Gesu violin, although he owns and plays other violins.  Zeitlin has recorded extensively for various labels and his CDs are quite easy to find on the internet. His recording of the Schoenberg violin concerto can be found here.  Although he did not record this concerto with the New York Philharmonic, he played it with that orchestra on January 5, 1967.  There are a few videos of his playing on YouTube as well.  You can listen to one here

P.S. Zvi Zeitlin died on May 2, 2012, at age 89. He gave a farewell recital in February of 2012, intending to retire in the summer of 2012.  Only Roman Totenberg, Ivry Gitlis, and Joseph Zigeti have played recitals at that age. 

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