Monday, October 11, 2010

Shlomo Mintz

Shlomo Mintz is a Russian violinist, violist, teacher, and conductor born on October 30, 1957 (Heifetz was 56 years old.)  (Mintz was born on the same day as Leonidas Kavakos, although ten years earlier.) He is known for a career which encompasses a very wide range of activities – solo appearances, teaching, chamber music, recording, recitals, judging, philanthropic sponsorships, and conducting.  He began his violin studies in Israel with the famous and beautiful Hungarian violinist Ilona Feher at age two.  He studied with her until 1973.  At age 11 (April 23, 1969), he made his debut with the Israel Philharmonic playing Mendelssohn's concerto (Uri Segal conducting.)  Soon afterwards, as Itzhak Perlman fell ill, he substituted for him (again with the Israel Philharmonic), playing the first concerto of Paganini.  Many concert musicians have launched their careers in exactly this same fashion.  He made his Carnegie Hall debut at the age of sixteen with the Pittsburgh Symphony playing the Bruch g minor concerto.  He then began his studies with Dorothy DeLay at Juilliard although his career was already well on its way.  In 1997, he played Paganini’s famous Cannone violin (Guarneri del Gesu, 1742) - a replica of which I will soon have in my hands (thanks to luthier Daniel Houck) - during a concert in Maastricht (the Netherlands) with the Limburg Symphony.  From the age of eighteen, Shlomo Mintz added the role of conductor to his artistic life and has since conducted many orchestras worldwide, including the Royal Philharmonic (England), the NHK Symphony Orchestra (Japan), the Rotterdam Philharmonic, and the Israel Philharmonic.  On April 6, 1992, Mintz made his New York conducting debut, conducting the Israel Chamber Orchestra on that occasion.  In March 1994 he was named Principal Guest Conductor of the Maastricht Symphony Orchestra (The Netherlands).  In 2008 Mintz was named Principal Guest Conductor of the Zagreb Philharmonic.  Shlomo Mintz gives master classes worldwide and has been a member of the jury of several international violin competitions.  His discography does not include the Tchaikovsky concerto nor the concertos of Bach or Paganini.  Otherwise, it is fairly extensive.  It has been reported that Mintz has recorded all of Vivaldi’s violin concertos in a single collection but I seriously doubt that – Vivaldi wrote about 230 violin concertos.  I would have to see the collection to believe it.  There are many videos of his on YouTube.  As far as I know, Mintz still plays a Guarneri del Gesu (1700) and a Carlo Testore viola built in 1696.

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