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l33tplaya

Joseph Silverstein dies

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I thought he was a remarkable violinist.  As a youth, I listened to him whenever I went to see the BSO. Yehudi Menuhin (already very old), David Oistrakh, Heifetz (both I saw on TV)  and Isaac Stern just didn't seem to make it to Beantown.

 

From the VC Channel:

 

It has been announced today that American violinist, conductor and respected pedagogue Joseph Silverstein has passed away suddenly from a heart attack – aged 82.

A student of Efrem Zimbalist, William Primrose, Josef Gingold and Mischa Mischakof, Mr Silverstein was a former prize winner at the Queen Elisabeth and Walter W Naumburg International Violin Competitions.

He served as Concertmaster of the Boston Symphony for 22 years – and was later appointed the orchestra’s Assistant Conductor.

From 1983 to 1998 he served as Music Director of the Utah Symphony and held distinguished teaching positions at the Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory.

His famed students included VC ‘Young Artists’ Nikki Chooi and Grace Clifford.

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It is sad. I didn't know of him...but we saw Nikki Chooi play last Saturday! So I saw one of his students!

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It was kind irritating hearing 2 10 minute segments about Perlman on NPR the day after Mr. Silverstein died.

 

His del Gesu was the first Cremonese violin that I got to hold. He would remember my name, and said, "call me Joey", but I could only call him Mr. Silverstein. Great Guad, 1776, too.

 

A great person, a wonderful player, and by all accounts, a first-class teacher and mentor.

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That Guad was formerly owned by Grumiaux and before him, Alfredo Campoli was it not?

That's correct according to tarisio.com records (the instrument is given as made in Torino in 1773)

 

His 1742 Guarneri was previously played by Camilla Urso

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I never heard of him. Maybe somebody can post some recordings. Sorry to hear about his passing away.

He was concertmaster of the Boston Symphony for many years.

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I regret not having known him better, but I got a lot of good from him in a masterclass down in Florida (Sarasota, if I remember correctly).  I found him "no nonsense," wise, clever, intellectual, and articulate, and immensely concerned.

 

I've mentioned before on MN that when he played during the week of the masterclass, he didn't yet have the dG, and with his Guad he couldn't be heard well playing with Brooks Smith (an accompanist who certainly knew not to overpower a violinist).  There could be many reasons for that, but I have always thought it must be hard for a concertmaster to spend countless hours in an orchestra then play with enough aggression as a soloist.

 

I have a huge respect for concertmasters.  They have to "work and play" with others, then turn around and get bad reviews for not being convincing as soloists.  To some extent this applies to quartet players as well, I believe.

 

In the following, note what he says at about 2:15:

 

 

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Hi Will.  I can't comment on that particular performance but concerning the Guad, Alfredo Campoli told me that it was the most powerful instrument he had owned.  He got it in anticipation of playing at the Proms in the massive Albert Hall.

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Hi Will.  I can't comment on that particular performance but concerning the Guad, Alfredo Campoli told me that it was the most powerful instrument he had owned.  He got it in anticipation of playing at the Proms in the massive Albert Hall.

Well, I probably shouldn't have even mentioned it, except that I think all input is good.  (Please note that I have been suggesting a "history section" for this forum for a long time.)  And the reason I shouldn't have is I'm pretty well convinced that different venues can effect how an instrument works.  There's the violin, how it's played, where it's played, who the accompanist is, and probably some other factors.

 

The venue I was referring to was just a large room with all the chairs on one level.  No elevation for the player or piano  Perhaps 200 people.  I was ten feet away.  So who knows what was at work there.  But some violinists are known for not being heard above orchestras.  I'm not going to mention any names, but we probably all know one famous example.  I'm not suggesting Mr. Silverstein was one of them, since I don't know.  It was one incident.

 

BTW, the one time I played Albert Hall our event was amplified.  Maybe someone can tell us if that is the norm, and, if so, how long that has been going on.  I remember wondering what that seeming "barn" must be like without amplification.  I loved it, incidentally.   

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Good.   :)   Maybe I have a convert.

 

I just think back to all the little stories that we hear over the years from people who were at some concert or event where things happened; and those things get lost if they aren't written down some where.  They aren't always worth much, but who knows?  Oh, little things like Stradivari either going to the apothecary to buy varnish or not.   :)  I'm not sure MN is a perfect place for such things, but what place is?  There must still be MNers who knew Sacconi, who might remember things he said about one thing or another.

 

I remember the sort of odd look in Oistrakh's eye, as he glared at me and said something to his "interpreter" who, in turn, said, "Mr. Oistrakh believes he as seen you before."   In itself, it may mean nothing.  But one can't help but wonder if the Russians didn't have the Interpreter along for fear of a defection.  In this case, Oistrakh had indeed seen me a year or two before.  But why the odd look?  That's what I call "little history."  And I think there's room for it.

 

If you are interested in history, there is a book I'm recommending to friends.  It's "Eyewitness to History" edited by John Carey (I believe the first name is John; I'll check, but tomorrow).  Remarkable first hand accounts of such things as the "Charge of the Light Brigade."  And dating back to very early times.

 

—MO 

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I heard him play this excerpt with the Boston Symphony under Ozawa at Symphony Hall in Boston in 1978. I and the audience were stunned. I love his tone, right up there with Kreisler, Oistrakh and Perlman, in my opinion.

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Her was considered the greatest concertmaster.   My teacher, William Lincer, told me a story of his auditon for concertmaster of the Boston.   At the time of the auditons he was sitting in the back of the violins - perhaps even the 2nds (?).  The outgoing concertmaster had recommended him for the audition.  He played through his prepared works beautifully and the committee, skeptical about this young man, started placing sightreading material in front of him.  Each time he played it flawlessly, obviously very familiar with the work.  Piece after piece they placed in front of him, and he performed each one perfectly.  Finally the old concertmaster chuckles and turns to the committee and tells them that they are not going to find a piece he does not know because he has dedicated himself to studying the orchestra literature.  He was also a 1st tier soloist.  I heard him several times as soloist and he could stand shoulder to shoulder with any of the major names. 

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Her was considered the greatest concertmaster.   My teacher, William Lincer, told me a story of his auditon for concertmaster of the Boston.   At the time of the auditons he was sitting in the back of the violins - perhaps even the 2nds (?).  

 

Not that it's important, but I was always told he was in the back of the 2nds.  Much old information comes 2nd. hand, but even if possibly differing  in detail, it can still be accurate in toto.

 

Silverstein was the longest - lasting and most famous concertmaster in North America.  Perhaps he'd have more press had he spent his career in the media capital of the world, but still I'm stunned that people on MN would say they didn't know who he was.

 

This leaves Jules Eskin as the only active player of the 'old guard' in Boston.

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Not that it's important, but I was always told he was in the back of the 2nds.  Much old information comes 2nd. hand, but even if possibly differing  in detail, it can still be accurate in toto.

 

Silverstein was the longest - lasting and most famous concertmaster in North America.  Perhaps he'd have more press had he spent his career in the media capital of the world, but still I'm stunned that people on MN would say they didn't know who he was.

 

This leaves Jules Eskin as the only active player of the 'old guard' in Boston.

 

I, too, heard it was from the back of the seconds, but I also heard that about one of their principal violists, Burton Fine.  And that story is in print if you look him up.

 

Is Eskin still in the orchestra?  He'd be about 83!  Even if he's just "active" that's amazing.  Good for Jules!

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Remarkable.  Thanks.

 

For sure.  Word is it wasn't 'great', but then, as you say, it's remarkable he did it at all.  I can tell you personally it's not one of the easy solos!

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