Saturday, March 19, 2011

Abram Shtern

Abram Shtern is a Russian (Ukrainian) violinist and teacher born March 19, 1919 (Heifetz was 18 years old.)  He is one of the oldest violinists still playing or teaching – Ida Haendel, Zvi Zeitlin, Ruggiero Ricci, and Ivry Gitlis are four others.  He is known as a violin pedagogue in the tradition of Leopold Auer.  He studied violin with David Berthier (aka David Bertie, a violinist about whom almost nothing is known), one of Auer’s pupils.  All I know about Berthier is that he taught at Kiev’s Central School and taught Julian Sitkovetsky there as well.  After graduating from the Kiev State Conservatory, Shtern became an assistant to Berthier and was concertmaster (soloist, leader) of the Kiev Philharmonic.  He concertized in Eastern Europe and Cuba for many years.  He was later granted a professorship at the conservatory.  He held the position of concertmaster of the Shevchenko Opera and Ballet Orchestra from 1947 to 1989, immigrating with his family to the United States, in 1990.  He was 71 years old.  That means that he (more than likely) took part in Alexei Gorokhov’s recordings of the six Paganini violin concertos.  It is a very small world indeed.  (When Heifetz was engaged to play violin solos for a movie soundtrack, he ran into Toscha Seidel, a former fellow student and recital partner from childhood – Seidel was concertmaster of the studio orchestra.)  During his 42-year tenure with the Shevchenko Orchestra, Shtern also appeared frequently as soloist and chamber musician.  He has held master classes in Germany, Holland, Israel, Italy, the United States, Yugoslavia, and the Russian Federation.  Many of his students hold positions in the world’s top orchestras, too numerous to mention.  Shtern is little known outside professional music circles (where his reputation is held in high esteem), but his name is mentioned in several books on the lives of violinists.  One of those books is Henry Roth’s book, Violin Virtuosos, and another is Yakov Soroker’s similar book.  You can hear one of Shtern’s performances on YouTube by pressing here.  It is the famous violin solo from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet score.


  1. I have heard of him and he is indeed a marvellous violinist and I am sure he is a great master.
    Have you heard of Maestro Habib Kayaleh ? here is a like to his center of music.

    1. I had not heard about Maestro Kayaleh but I will go to his site very soon. Thank you for mentioning him.