September 01, 2003

King David

On September 30, celebrated violinist David Oistrakh, one of the founders of the Russian violin school, soloist of the Moscow Philharmonic Society and Professor of the Moscow Conservatory, would have turned 95.

David Fyodorovich Oistrakh was born in 1908 in Odessa, and violin was one of his earliest memories. In his autobiography, My Way, Oistrakh wrote that, at the age of three and a half, he received a toy fiddle as a present. When he took the toy into his hands, he imagined himself a fiddler (a “sad” occupation widespread in Russia at the time). It seemed to him at that age that there could be no greater happiness than to wander the world playing the fiddle.

As it was, Oistrakh, who was a student of Pyotr Stolyarsky, the legendary teacher of many famous Russian violinists, made his debut at the age of just six. By the time he was 20, in 1928, he had performed very successfully in Leningrad. He moved to Moscow the same year and began to appear in joint concerts with leading soviet pianists (Konstantin Igumnov, Alexander Goldenveizer, Genrikh Neigauz).  Since 1934 he taught at the Moscow Conservatory. His fame went international when he took first prizes in the Warsaw (1935) and Brussels (1937) violin competitions, besting 59 violinists from 19 countries.

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