Wednesday, September 30, 2009

David Oistrakh

David Oistrakh (David Fyodorovich Oistrakh) was a Russian (Ukrainian) violinist and teacher born on September 30, 1908 (Heifetz was 7 years old.) He progressed to the point of becoming a legendary Russian string player, in a class with Mstislav Rostropovitch, and Leonid Kogan. Oistrakh began studying violin at age 5 with Peter Stolyarsky. His first concert appearance took place in Odessa, his hometown, in 1914, at age 6. He shared that debut with Nathan Milstein who was 10 years old at the time. In 1923, Oistrakh entered the Odessa Conservatory and remained until 1926. He began concertizing soon thereafter. He married Tamara Rotareva in 1928 and had a son with her in 1931, Igor Oistrakh, who became a famous violinist, too. Oistrakh started teaching at the Moscow Conservatory in 1934. Among his many students was Gidon Kremer. In 1935, he came in second at the Wieniawski Competition – a 16-year-old Ginette Neveu came in first. In 1937, he came in first in the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels, Belgium. After that, his career became firmly established. He premiered many violin works by famous Russian composers – Prokofiev, Khachaturian, Shostakovich, and Miaskovsky, among others. It is said that he played the Tchaikovsky concerto to the end, on a winter day in 1942, despite the heavy bombardment (by the German air force) of downtown Stalingrad - where the music hall was located - during the concert. He did not actually appear in the West (as a concert artist) until 1949 (Helsinki, Finland.) His first tour of the U.S. came in 1955. He began venturing into conducting in the late fifties. Oistrakh died on October 24, 1974, in Amsterdam, at age 66. He had just finished conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra in a series of concerts. His discography is very extensive, though the sound quality of many of his recordings leaves a lot to be desired. There are many videos of his playing on YouTube and a fan page on MySpace as well.

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