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. 

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