Sunday, December 27, 2015

Joseph Roisman

Joseph Roisman (Josef Roismann) was a Russian (Ukrainian) violinist born (in Odessa) on July 25, 1900.  He is best known for playing in the Budapest String Quartet from 1927 to 1967.  Prior to 1932 he played second violin and then played first violin from 1932 onward.  Although he was a very prominent chamber music player, known throughout the world, there is scant information about him on the internet and no Wikipedia article on him.  He began his violin studies at age 6.  One source states that his first teacher was Peter Stolyarsky although that is highly debatable since prominent pedagogues like Stolyarski never take on beginners.  From Odessa the family went to Berlin where Roisman studied with Alexander Fiedemann.  In 1914, they returned to Odessa where the young Roisman studied with Naoum Blinder at the Imperial Conservatory.  After graduating, he was appointed concertmaster of the Odessa Opera Orchestra.  After the 1917 revolution, Roisman made a living in Russia playing in farms and factories.  In 1923, he left Russia and soon settled in Prague, playing in the Czech Philharmonic and in cafes.  By 1925, he had arrived in Berlin where he landed a job in a movie theatre orchestra.  According to one source, the theatre orchestra paid better than the Berlin Philharmonic.  He supplemented his income by playing in cafes there too.  He joined the Budapest Quartet after auditioning in the spring of 1927.  He played his first concert with the quartet on September 17, 1927 in Oslo, Norway – it was an all-Beethoven program.  Roisman, as far as I know, never played solo concerts or recitals.  Here is an audio file of the quartet playing a Haydn quartet in (circa) 1925, prior to Roisman's joining.  Here is a recording (from 1934) of a Mozart quartet, including Roisman and the players which lasted the longest with the Budapest String Quartet and are traditionally associated with it.  Roisman played a Domenico Montagnana violin constructed in 1723 and a magnificent 1785 Lorenzo Storioni.  Joseph Roisman died on October 10, 1974, at age 74. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Naoum Blinder

Naoum Blinder was a Russian (Ukrainian) violinist and teacher born (in Lutzk) on July 19, 1889 – since various sources vary his exact date and place of birth are approximate.  He is best remembered for being one of Isaac Stern’s teachers – between 1932 and 1935.  He was a touring concert violinist for a while but finally settled in San Francisco to become the orchestra’s concertmaster for 25 years.  He began his violin studies as a child although I don’t know at what age.  By age 14 he had graduated from the Imperial Conservatory in Odessa.  There, he had studied with Peter Stolyarsky and Alexander Fiedemann.  He then entered the Moscow Conservatory (in about 1904) and studied with an unknown teacher there until about 1910.  He was by then 21 years old.  From there, he went to pursue further study in England at the Royal Manchester College of Music.  His main teacher there was Adolph Brodsky.  Blinder graduated from the RMC in 1913 or 1914 and then returned to Odessa to teach at the Conservatory.  He was 25 years old.  He remained there until 1920.  All the while, he toured (mostly Russia and the Middle East) as a soloist.  Between 1923 and 1927, he taught at the Moscow Conservatory.  I don’t know what he did or where he was between 1920 and 1923.  Blinder and his family (his wife and daughter) came to the US (via Japan) in December, 1927.  Between 1929 and 1931, Blinder taught at Juilliard in New York.  In 1931, he became the concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony at the invitation of a friend who had known him in Russia.  Blinder was 42 years old.  He continued to tour intermittently as a soloist and founded the San Francisco String Quartet in 1935 as well.  In that year, he and Isaac Stern played the Bach concerto for two violins with the orchestra.  That is fairly typical of teachers and their favorite students to do.  Blinder had a very large body of students; many of them became members of the San Francisco Symphony and other orchestras.  Glenn Dicterow also studied with him for a time.  Blinder owned and played several violins – a 1774 G.B. Guadagnini, a 1753 G.B. Guadagnini, and an 1850 J.B. Vuillaume are among them.  He died on November 21, 1965, at age 76.  Here is a rare solo recording of his.