Sunday, December 28, 2014

Lydia Mordkovitch

Lydia Mordkovitch (Lydia Shtimerman Mordkovitch) was a Russian violinist, violist, and teacher born (in Saratov) on April 30, 1944.  She spent much of her later career in England.  She began her violin studies at the local music school in Kishinev (Kishniev or Kishinyov), a city in Moldova where her family returned after World War Two.  Since Kishinev was a shambles during the war, her mother fled as far as she could (980 miles eastward, all the way to Saratov, in this case) to get away from the fighting forces.  Mordkovitch may have been six or seven years old when she first began her studies.  I didn’t take the trouble to find out.  Beginning in 1960, at age 16, she studied briefly in Odessa (Ukraine) at the Stolyarski School of Music.  (Odessa is only 96 miles southeast from Kishinev.)  She then moved her studies to the (Nezhdanova) Odessa Conservatory.  One of her teachers there was Monzion Mordkovich, a violinist I had never heard about before.  [Please see comments below]  She was there two years and graduated.  She was 18 years old.  Later still, she entered the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow.  She was 24 years old by then.  Her main teacher there was David Oistrakh.  In fact, when she first met Oistrakh to prepare for her entrance exam, he asked her why she had “come so late,” referring to her age.   From 1968 to 1970, she was Oistrakh’s teaching assistant as well.  From 1970 to 1973 she taught at the Institute of Arts in Kishinev.  A couple of sources say she studied there between those same years but that is highly unlikely – Mordkovitch was already an established violinist by then.  In Israel, she taught at the Academy of Music in Jerusalem between 1974 and 1979.  Mordkovitch made her British debut on January 7, 1979, playing the Tchaikovsky concerto with the Halle Orchestra (Manchester, England) conducted by Walter Susskind.  She moved to England permanently in 1980.  She was 36 years old.  All the while, she was concertizing in Europe, England, Russia, Israel, and the US.  Her American debut came in 1982 with the Chicago Symphony (in Chicago.)  George Solti was on the podium.  In 1980, she began teaching at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England.  In 1995, she began teaching at the Royal Academy of Music in London.  Mordkovitch made over sixty recordings, mostly under the (British) Chandos label.  Some of them are unique in that they feature works for violin which are seldom heard – John Veale’s violin concerto, for instance.  Her recording of the Shostakovich concertos won awards from British and French music critics.  Most of her recordings are easy to find on the internet.  Her best-known pupil is probably British violinist Pip Clarke.  Mordkovitch played a 1746 Nicolo Gagliano violin for many years but she would use other instruments as well (mostly Strads and Guadagninis on loan from friends or the Royal Academy), especially when recording.  Here is a YouTube audio file of her recording of the first Szymanowski concerto.  Mordkovitch died on December 9, 2014, at age 70.   

2 comments:

  1. Prof. Beniamin (not Monzion) Mordkovich (1906-2000) was a student of Pyotr Stoliarski. In addition to Lydia Mordkovich (who married his son Leonid) he taught Rosa Fain, Eduard Gratch, Dora Schwarzberg, Valery Klimov and many others.

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  2. Dear Laughing Imp, Thanks for the clarification.

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