Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ruben Gonzalez

Ruben Gonzalez (Ruben De Artagnan Gonzalez) is an Argentinian (most people would say American) violinist, composer, teacher, and conductor born (in Viale, Argentina) on May 4, 1939.  He is best known for having been the concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony from 1986 to 1996.  He is also known for having played the Kreisler Bergonzi violin.  Fritz Kreisler played that instrument for about ten years (1939 to 1949.)  A usually reliable source says that Kreisler used the instrument after he gave up his Guarnerius to the Library of Congress but that is obviously not true since Kreisler gave up his Guarnerius in 1952.  From Kreisler, the (Carlo) Bergonzi went to Angel Reyes (in 1949) then to Itzhak Perlman then to Ruben Gonzalez then to a collector.  According to one source, it is now in the hands of violinist Guro Hagen, though it is not owned by her.  Gonzalez studied with Osvaldo Pessina in Argentina and then with other teachers in Europe who are not exactly household names.  In 1965, Gonzalez won the top prize in a well-known competition in Barcelona, Spain.  He then played in an ensemble in Italy from which he returned to Buenos Aires, Argentina to begin his career as an orchestral player.  From Argentina, he went to Hamburg, Germany where he was concertmaster with the North German Radio Orchestra.  Returning to the U.S., he joined the Minnesota Orchestra as associate concertmaster in 1977.  From 1981 to 1986 he was concertmaster of the Houston Symphony.  In 1986, George Solti named him concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony – actually, one of two concertmasters, in the style of most German orchestras.  Among other schools, Gonzalez has taught at Rice University in Texas.  Here is a very popular video on YouTube in which Gonzalez is at the very end of the Dvorak concerto when something totally unexpected happens.  Gonzalez continues to play but he now devotes most of his time to conducting and composition.  

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