Why no OISTRAKH biography to date?

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Lance
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Why no OISTRAKH biography to date?

Post by Lance » Sun Apr 29, 2007 1:22 am

David Oistrakh is considered one of the world's greatest violinists, right alongside Jacscha Heifetz and Nathan Milstein. I have the book David Oistrakh written by Oistrakh's friend and student, Yakov Soroker, published in Jerusalem by Lexicon in 1982. It's a paperback, but quite outstanding, with photos, etc. It's kind of a rare book and I got it on the used market and paid a hefty price, but I haven't seen another one since. There is even a signed letter addressed to a reviewer, by Mr. Soroker himself.

In the meantime, I wonder why an extensive biography hasn't been written about Oistrakh? His name is still on the tip of anyone's tongue that speaks of violinists.

CHENISTON, that sounds like a job for you! Perhaps there has been a biography written that is only available in Russia, but I haven't heard of it. It's a book that NEEDS to be written. His son, Igor, is still alive and well, but then so is Leonid Kogan's son, Pavel, who resides in the USA now, himself an accomplished violinist but more recently a conductor. An extensive book on Kogan would also be worthwhile. The Kogan book could be rich with information since Leonid Kogan married Elizaveta Gilels, sister of pianist Emil Gilels. AND, someone should write a book about Gilels, as well. Kill three birds with one stone!

As a side note, I'm doing a discography on David Oistrakh and am almost through the CD listings, which already has run to 272 composer listings, with replication of the same repertoire, though not always with the same forces. I'm not done with the CD listings yet, and then there's the LPs to list, which are also comprehensive. Cataloguing is fun, but time consuming, especially if one wants 100% accuracy.
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John F
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Post by John F » Sun Apr 29, 2007 7:15 am

New Grove lists an Oistrakh biography by Yampolsky (1964 & 1968, pub. in Russia) in addition to the Soroker book you mention, and there are several other books in Russian and German for Oistrakh-fanciers. Since he died 33 years ago and was known in the US mostly through foreign-made records, there may not be enough interest here to support a new biography.
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Post by Lance » Sun Apr 29, 2007 10:27 am

John F wrote:New Grove lists an Oistrakh biography by Yampolsky (1964 & 1968, pub. in Russia) in addition to the Soroker book you mention, and there are several other books in Russian and German for Oistrakh-fanciers. Since he died 33 years ago and was known in the US mostly through foreign-made records, there may not be enough interest here to support a new biography.
I must be getting lazy in my older days! You're a marvelously thorough person, John Francis. (I'll bet you hear that all the time, yes? :D) I have a Groves set 15 feet from me and should have checked this out first with regard to biographies on the man. Heifetz died in 1987 and we have at least three biographies on him, one published as late as 2005 published by his student, Sherry Kloss, though Herbert Axelrod's book (I believe an "unauthorized" biography) is most revealing. And while 33 years is a long time since Oistrakh's passing, biographies of other celebrated artists, such as baritone Leonard Warren (died 1960), come forth. I would be happy to see an English translation of Yampolsky's book, a man who worked closely with Oistrakh as his accompanist. Being half Russian, I cannot, unfortunately, read Russian. Bruno Monsaingeon, who wrote a marvelous book on Richter, could be another candidate for writing a biography. Well, John Francis, thank you for checking into this for me.
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
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John F
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Post by John F » Sun Apr 29, 2007 11:19 am

[quote+"Lance"]I have a Groves set 15 feet from me[/quote]

Mine is 4 feet from me, so it's easier. <grin>

Heifetz and Warren were different cases from Oistrakh. Heifetz became an American citizen in 1925 and lived here over 60 years; Warren was born in the U.S.A. and hardly ever sang elsewhere. Naturally, there are millions of Americans who remember them and add up to a substantial market for books about them. Oistrakh was only an occasional visitor here and never became a celebrity on such a scale.

Oistrakh's biographer is not his accompanist Vladimir Yampolsky but Izrael Yampolsky, billed in the New Grove as a Soviet musicologist, violinist and teacher. He would seem to have just the background to write well about Oistrakh, and it would be good to have his biography in English. If someone were to do a good translation, Amadeus Press might well publish it.
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Post by Lance » Sun Apr 29, 2007 12:28 pm

John F wrote:[quote+"Lance"]I have a Groves set 15 feet from me
Mine is 4 feet from me, so it's easier. <grin>

Heifetz and Warren were different cases from Oistrakh. Heifetz became an American citizen in 1925 and lived here over 60 years; Warren was born in the U.S.A. and hardly ever sang elsewhere. Naturally, there are millions of Americans who remember them and add up to a substantial market for books about them. Oistrakh was only an occasional visitor here and never became a celebrity on such a scale.

Oistrakh's biographer is not his accompanist Vladimir Yampolsky but Izrael Yampolsky, billed in the New Grove as a Soviet musicologist, violinist and teacher. He would seem to have just the background to write well about Oistrakh, and it would be good to have his biography in English. If someone were to do a good translation, Amadeus Press might well publish it.[/quote]

Well now, John Francis ... you caught me again. If I had walked that 15 feet (perhaps I should move the Groves closer!) - I would have noted that it was Izrael Yampolsky, not Vladimir, who wrote the biography. Tsk, tsk on poor moi! I wonder if Izzy is related to Vladsy? Brothers, perhaps? (Perhaps Groves points this out!) Anyway, John F - you're great fun - and you have an encyclopedic knowledge of music - much appreciated here!
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Post by pizza » Sun Apr 29, 2007 1:21 pm

I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting Oistrakh many years ago when he first appeared in Chicago. I walked into Lishon's record shop one afternoon and saw this guy furiously pulling LPs from the shelf. I realized who it was immediately as I had seen his picture in the paper. Hank Lishon asked if I knew someone who could translate because he didn't speak a word of English. I phoned my dad who was fluent in Russian, and he quickly came to the store and obliged.

Oistrakh was all business and didn't engage in any of the pleasantries one might have expected. We supposed either he was being shadowed by the KGB or he thought he was. He was like a kid in a candy shop and amassed a huge bunch of records which he arranged to have sent to his hotel. They were almost all violin solos and some chamber works. He cleared the shelves of Mischa Elman and Nathan Milstein LPs. Oddly, he didn't take many Heifetz recordings. He was there for about an hour, paid his bill and left abruptly.

And unfortunately, as bad luck would have it, I wasn't able to get a ticket for his recital -- every seat was sold and there wasn't even any SRO available. :cry:

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Post by John F » Mon Apr 30, 2007 8:22 am

New Grove has an article on I. Yampolsky, and it says he was the son of cellist Mark Yampolsky, and studied violin with his (Izrael's) uncle Abram Yampolsky at the Moscow Conservatory. Definitely a musical family! But Vladimir Yampolsky is not mentioned in the articles about Abram and Izrael, so maybe he isn't related to them.

Abram and Izrael Yampolsky were from the Ukraine and Jewish, from their forenames, so I wonder if the surname Yampolsky might be distinctively Jewish as well. If so, then maybe Vladimir Y. was Jewish too, as David Oistrakh certainly was, and he was another Ukrainian. Likewise many other great Soviet musicians, of course, including Emil Gilels. They don't make 'em like that any more. (Sviatoslav Richter was also from the Ukraine but not Jewish, I believe.)

Abram Yampolski's pupils, besides his nephew, included Leonid Kogan and other important though less famous violinists such as Yulian Sitkovetsky, Igor Bezrodny, and Mark Lubotsky. Since he wasn't a prominent soloist, he may have spent more time and worked more closely with them than Oistrakh and Kogan reportedly did with their pupils.

Hey, I'm not trying to show you up, I just enjoy finding things out, and your topic has set me going. <grin>
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Post by rasputin » Mon Apr 30, 2007 9:05 am

About Sherry Kloss, she was a Heifetz's pupil and a very warm
and good taste volinist. I strongly recommend 2 CD she made,
one with Heitez's transcriptiobs and arrangements (many that he
never recorded),and the other with short encore pieces, almost
all forgotten now, and played wirh exquisite elegance. And besides,she plays with the same violin Jascha used on his debut
in 1917.

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Post by Lance » Mon Apr 30, 2007 10:18 am

rasputin wrote:About Sherry Kloss, she was a Heifetz's pupil and a very warm
and good taste volinist. I strongly recommend 2 CD she made,
one with Heitez's transcriptiobs and arrangements (many that he
never recorded),and the other with short encore pieces, almost
all forgotten now, and played wirh exquisite elegance. And besides,she plays with the same violin Jascha used on his debut
in 1917.
Yes, I have those Kloss CDs and it was good to have them by a Heifetz pupil even if Jascha himself hadn't recorded many of them. While I recognized some fine playing, it wasn't Heifetz. After all, who but Heifetz could be Heifetz?!? For those interested in Kloss's recordings Volume 1 is on Kloss 1816 and the other disc is on Protone 1104.
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
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Post by Lance » Mon Apr 30, 2007 10:34 am

John F wrote:New Grove has an article on I. Yampolsky, and it says he was the son of cellist Mark Yampolsky, and studied violin with his (Izrael's) uncle Abram Yampolsky at the Moscow Conservatory. Definitely a musical family! But Vladimir Yampolsky is not mentioned in the articles about Abram and Izrael, so maybe he isn't related to them.

Abram and Izrael Yampolsky were from the Ukraine and Jewish, from their forenames, so I wonder if the surname Yampolsky might be distinctively Jewish as well. If so, then maybe Vladimir Y. was Jewish too, as David Oistrakh certainly was, and he was another Ukrainian. Likewise many other great Soviet musicians, of course, including Emil Gilels. They don't make 'em like that any more. (Sviatoslav Richter was also from the Ukraine but not Jewish, I believe.)

Abram Yampolski's pupils, besides his nephew, included Leonid Kogan and other important though less famous violinists such as Yulian Sitkovetsky, Igor Bezrodny, and Mark Lubotsky. Since he wasn't a prominent soloist, he may have spent more time and worked more closely with them than Oistrakh and Kogan reportedly did with their pupils.

Hey, I'm not trying to show you up, I just enjoy finding things out, and your topic has set me going. <grin>
There were many Jewish musicians, Gilels, Kogan and others of that celebrated ilk who were, I would gather, a little upset that David Oistrakh avoided discussing anything "Jewish," or professing to being Jewish, as though he was trying to hide it. Yakov Soroker speaks about this in his book. On the other hand, given the situation in Russia and elsewhere from even before World War II and well into more contemporary times, the Jews had to "protect" themselves as much as possible from the authorities who were so anti-Jewish as their careers could be (and were frequently) destroyed or came to nothing at all. It was a pitiful situation for all these magnificent artists. But then one didn't have to necessarily be Jewish in order to have your career affected. Richter had to be careful, and so did Rostropovich, and neither were Jewish. And look at how the early career of Vladimir Feltsman suffered until he could finally make a break. Maria Grinberg's career (what a marvelous pianist, only now getting her due on Vista Vera discs) suffered, but then so did Maria Yudina's, the latter of whom I don't believe was Jewish. She was a woman, and women didn't often fare well in the arts.

The careers of Horowitz, Rubinstein, Heifetz, Milstein and Elman, among many others, could have been far less glorious if these artists hadn't departed Europe when they did. By leaving, the legacy they have left us in the USA and the world in general, is immeasurable. And you're right about one thing: they definitely do not make them like that any more!

John Francis, thanks for your input on this and keep up this "finding things out" for us. What an asset you are to CMG!
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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