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Violinist and conductor Joseph Silverstein, (1932-2015)

Laurie Niles

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Published: November 23, 2015 at 6:15 AM [UTC]

Violinist, conductor and teacher Joseph Silverstein, former conductor of the Utah Symphony and former concertmaster of the Boston Symphony, died Sunday after a heart attack. He was 83.

Joseph Silverstein

Born in Detroit, Silverstein studied with his father, Bernard Silverstein, a public school music teacher. He later studied with Efrem Zimbalist, William Primrose, Josef Gingold, and Mischa Mischakoff. In 1959 he won a silver medal at the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition and in 1960 was awarded Naumburg Award.

Silverstein joined the back of the second violin section of the Boston Symphony at age 23, moving up to principal second violinist and eventually concertmaster in 1962, serving in that capacity for 22 years. He became assistant conductor, as well, in 1971.

Silverstein came to Salt Lake City in 1983, where he was Music Director of the Utah Symphony for 15 years.

As a teacher, was a professor of violin at the New England Conservatory of Music and the Curtis Institute. He also led the faculty at Tanglewood and was a regular faculty artist at the Sarasota Music Festival.

He played on a 1742 Guarneri del Gesù.


Violinist.com member Nat Little described a lesson with Silverstein: "He told me some old stories about Szerying and things he noticed while watching Heifetz from the concertmaster seat of the Boston Symphony. His main observation about Heifetz was that his left hand never stopped moving.... So from that day on I made sure to vibrate every note. If you listen for this in Silverstein's playing, you will not hear a note go without vibrato. He is very aware of this element of making the instrument shimmer."

* * *

What a sound. Joseph Silverstein performs Bach Sonata No. 3, Largo, as an encore after a concert with the Boston Civic Symphony in March 2001:

And in his capacity as concertmaster, this beautiful solo from Swan Lake:


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From Raphael Klayman
Posted on November 27, 2015 at 9:45 PM
I've always greatly admired and respected Joseph Silverstein. I still have warm memories from the '70's when the BSO broadcast their "Evening at Symphony" on PBS. The Siverstein solos I caught included the Vieuxtemps #5, Schonberg concerto Ein Heldenleben and Scheherezade. His playing has been fairly described as having "princely refinement" but please enjoy this more seldomly heard violin solo from Swan Lake where Silverstein's brilliant virtuosity joins with his elegance: https://youtu.be/Puq-OVvprTQ
From 75.74.251.42
Posted on November 27, 2015 at 11:45 PM
A fabulous fiddler and great friend who will be greatly missed. He was capable of tackling the full range of the violin repertoire with the charm and grace of the best. He proved that a left handed violinist was a cherished gift.
I will miss you Joey.
Matt Carone
From 72.91.198.131
Posted on November 28, 2015 at 12:01 AM
I first met him in Bradenton, Fl. when I was 13 and had only played a short while. I went to a class he gave and I will never forget how wonderful I felt after the class. I still love the violin and play for fun and I have him to thank for that. I know he was able to inspire many young people through out his life and this is a wonderful legacy.

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