To All of Our Jewish Violinist!

January 2, 2010 at 01:08 AM ·

I hope that this comes through!!!!


January 2, 2010 at 03:56 AM ·

Oistrakh beeing my favorite violinist ever, I can't agree more!


January 2, 2010 at 03:24 PM ·

Yes, and most of them played or are playing violins made by Catholics!!!

January 2, 2010 at 04:48 PM ·

As one Jewish violinist, and a not very good one, I can say, you are welcome, on behalf of those of my persuasion who are so great and bring us all so much pleasure.

January 5, 2010 at 05:45 PM ·

If I'm not mistaken, Itzhak Perlman once said that the violin is a Jewish instrument. Very true because there are indeed many wonderful Jewish violinists. By the way and speaking of Jewish violinists, I was in NYC last night playing for Cast Party at Birdland. I heard Aaron Weinstein play, and Aaron also had his debut show with his trio last night at Birdland with guest artists Janis Siegel of the Manhattan Transfer and jazz legend Jon Hendricks. Aaron is a fabulous jazz violinist!!! And of course, he's Jewish!

January 5, 2010 at 07:58 PM ·

 Hehe, speaking of Perlman, I was tracing my ancestry on the Perlman side of my family and it turns out he may be a relative... either way, I am definitely proud of the great line of violinists of this heritage.  In that generation, there were many jewish immigrants, and I think that with many immigrants across all cultures, there is a *strong* work ethic (heh, I should know, my family is a buncha immigrants).  I think that is one explanation for the strength of violin players that came out of that generation.

January 5, 2010 at 08:18 PM ·

Elana, that's wonderful that Perlman may be one of your relatives. This topic is very interesting because some violinists are not only Jewish, but they are also Hungarian. It was true of my father. And I think of the great Erika Morini as an example of a Jewish Hungarian violinist. This very deep love for the violin runs in both ethnicities! Carolyn

January 5, 2010 at 09:16 PM ·

I also think the violin is very "Russian" or "Eastern Europe" since many extraordinairy violinists and string pedagogies come from there and many of the musical personnalities there were Jewish as well!  A famous violinist once said that the "asian" boom of today is similar to the "Jewish" boom of the past. Do you agree? 


ps: Elana, cool for your possible family link with "Perlman"! He is so talented and also very kind with everyone.  

January 5, 2010 at 11:28 PM ·

 Oooh, Erika Morini, I love finding people that appreciate her playing!

January 6, 2010 at 04:17 AM ·

 Yes, and most of them played or are playing violins made by Catholics!!!...TOO FUNNY LUIS

January 6, 2010 at 12:53 PM ·

Three of the more famous Hungarian Jewish violinists were/are Joseph Joachim, Jeno Hubay, and Gyorgy Pauk.  As the descendant of Hungarian Jews on one side, I have always been proud of their contribution to violin playing and music in general.

January 6, 2010 at 01:42 PM ·

During a recent period of great Jewish emigration to Israel from Russia, there was a joke:

"What do you call the guy getting off the plane in Tel-Aviv without a violin tucked under his arm?"

Answer: "The pianist".

January 6, 2010 at 02:05 PM ·

lol  but check carefully... if the person carries a hand bagage?... a clarinettist for sure ; )


January 6, 2010 at 02:15 PM ·

I think it was in the late 1950s or 1960s that Isaac Stern described the East-West exchange of violinists going to give concerts as something like, "We send them our Jewish violinists from Odessa and they send us their Jewish violinists from Odessa."

January 6, 2010 at 02:42 PM ·

I've just been searching on internet for further information regarding Perlman's remark about the violin as a Jewish instrument. In an article entitled "Revisiting The Violin," it says:

Perlman has also become known for his sly sense of humor. Over the years, Perlman has said that the violin is a Jewish instrument. When Wallace asked him why so many top violinists - Jascha Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern, to name a few - were Jewish, Perlman was ready with an answer:

"You see, our fingers are circumcised, which gives it a very, very good dexterity, you know, particularly in the pinky," he said, breaking up with laughter. "I don't know what it is. Maybe it's a tradition."


January 6, 2010 at 03:15 PM ·

I think Perlman could have come up with something better.  I did not find his answer all that funny.  Sorry.

January 6, 2010 at 06:14 PM ·

I don't want to judge this remark of Perlman.  I don't think he meant it badly as people have to be able to gently laught of themselves sometimes. But I agree jokes can be "touchy".

But about fingers (if we take out the joke) maybe he was right in a way, I noticed that so many Jewish violinists have these perfect fleshy fingers for violin, wide vibratos and expressivity.  A bit like a trademark or characteristic (no offense meant, I find it's a huge advantage for violin and find them lucky!) 


January 6, 2010 at 07:45 PM ·

Don't get all uppity regarding Perlman's need to make a mountain out of a mohel

January 6, 2010 at 10:30 PM ·

Tom: do not forget Joseph Singer!

January 6, 2010 at 10:56 PM ·

The violin is a product of the Italian Civilization, I think.

January 6, 2010 at 11:54 PM ·

or maybe Egyption along with the bagpipes....;)

January 7, 2010 at 02:52 AM ·

Leopold Auer was a Hungarian Jew as well. I think Perlman's response was funny.

January 7, 2010 at 04:20 AM ·

Joseph Singer ( or Jashka Singer) - that would  be Joseph Szigeti, named for the town, Sziget, in Romania, which is also is where Elie Wiesel comes from.

January 7, 2010 at 08:15 AM ·

There is no doubt, that many of the finest violinist of the 20th Century (and some of the 19th) were Jewish, but I believe this to be a cultural thing , not a racist issue. As Nathan Milstein said in the "Art of the Violin" "I know many Jews who are not good violinists" - naturally said tongue in cheek, but a penetrating statement. He goes on to say that the climate was right in Russia/Odessa at the time for Jews to play the violin, and they did so with great fervor, It was a way to get ahead. Then in the USA, there was Saul Hurok, Isaac Stern and the whole "Kosher Nostra" that promoted Jewish violinists to the exclusion of non-Jews. Think about it, why do all Americans know the names of Heifetz, Stern, Menuhin (one of my favorites)and Sonnenberg, without being that familiar with Grumieaux,  Fransiscatti, Neveu, and today Leonidas Kavakos and Vilmos Szabadi?


As Beethoven taught us, music transcends all earth bound limits, and wraps the world in a cloak of universal brotherhood and understanding (Mr. Barenboim understands this better than anyone.) Music is universal, let's keep it that way - as Schiller said "alle Menschen werden Bruder....."








January 7, 2010 at 10:42 AM ·

Say James, here in Argentina nobody knows who Sonnenberg, Grumieaux or Fransiscatti where. A cultural problem, maybe?.

January 7, 2010 at 11:33 AM ·

At least in Italy (and perhaps in other parts of Europe too) during many centuries Jews were not allowed to choose many professions. They could not produce things, just sell them, for instance. 

Some of  the professions that were allowed to Jews were musician and dancer, and to teach these arts too (as we can read in ALVISE ZORZI "La Vita Quotidiana a Venezia nell Secolo di Tintoretto). This fact may have had an influence on this tradition. 

January 7, 2010 at 01:56 PM ·

Here is some other stuff that I just found on internet. It's all very fascinating!

In an article entitled "Did Jews Invent The Violin" by Elana Estrin,, here's what it says:

THERE’S FURTHER evidence that the violin may be of Jewish origin. It’s based on Prior’s second theory: that the renowned Amati family was Jewish. The Amatis are famed for being the first makers of the modern violin (and for teaching Antonio Stradivari, widely regarded to be the best violin craftsman in history). If the Amatis were Jewish, this could once again point to the violin being of Jewish origin since they were the earliest prominent makers of the modern violin.

Once again, in collecting evidence about the Amatis, Prior looked to their last name. He consulted Bibliografia Ebraica, a book of Jewish-Italian names by Carlo Barduzzi, which posits that the Hebrew surname “Haviv,” which means lovable or likable in Hebrew, is equivalent to the Italian surname “Amato,” which means beloved in Italian.

“Their last name may be evidence of the Jewish connection with the violin. They may have chosen the name, of course. I think it’s the Jewish habit of taking positive-sounding names which bring good luck,” Prior says.


The article also says this:


The list of the 20th century’s leading violinists is heavily dominated by Jews, each considered to be among the best violinists of all time: Jascha Heifetz, Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, David Oistrakh, Nathan Milstein and Mischa Elman, among others. And many of today’s leading violinists carry on the torch in the world’s concert halls, including Itzhak Perlman, Shlomo Mintz, Pinchas Zukerman, Gil Shaham, Joshua Bell, Hagai Shaham and Vadim Gluzman.

What accounts for the phenomenon? There are about as many theories as there are Jewish violinists. A popular theory posits that the Jews have historically been a mobile people and therefore have preferred a mobile instrument. So why is there no strong connection between the Jewish people and, say, the flute?

“The flute hasn’t captured the Jewish imagination as much as the violin has,” Knapp conjectures. “String instruments have a certain intensity and passion, and capture the feelings of the heart in a way that’s intense and immediate.”

Israeli violinist Hagai Shaham suggests that this “intensity and passion” of the violin is well-suited to Jewish music. And he has an answer for why the clarinet, which is both portable and important in klezmer music, has not been picked up by as many Jewish musicians.

“Jewish music in general is much more expressive. The violin is a much more sophisticated instrument than the clarinet – it’s much more versatile. And there are more job possibilities for a violinist, since there are many more violin seats than clarinet seats in an orchestra. The violin was a better bet,” Shaham says.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, when career paths for Jews were limited, the potential for job opportunities was a strong selling point for taking up the violin.

“At least for Russian Jews, that was the only way out of settlements,” Gluzman says. “If you were accepted into the St. Petersburg Conservatory, that was your way into the big city. So the violin became a tool of hope, because it was convenient. They were the children of hope: Mischa Elman, Jascha Heifetz, David Oistrakh, Nathan Milstein. That was the way for them and their families to move and have the legal right to bigger cities.”

He adds that this inevitably led to competition among families: “Every Jewish momma had to have her son play the fiddle; otherwise she’d be losing to the mom next door.”


January 7, 2010 at 02:20 PM ·

Carolyn - re the last sentence.  That was clearly before "my son, the doctor."

January 7, 2010 at 04:08 PM ·

Here is the link to Carolyn's article itself:


Her link just goes to the main page for the Jerusalem Post.  I have that article bookmarked.  :)

January 7, 2010 at 04:57 PM ·

Interesting but may I ask a question

"He adds that this inevitably led to competition among families: “Every Jewish momma had to have her son play the fiddle; otherwise she’d be losing to the mom next door.”

What about daughters?   Menuhin once said that since he was the first male child in his family, he was seen as the "infant Jesus" ...  He was a little joking too but if we look at the lists of famous jewish violinists, we don't see many females as we see many in asian violinists (moreover, I read in an article that the reason behind the asian female boom is that asian families send their daughters to julliard or america in the hope to find a rich "west" husband. It's a way for them to "upgrade" their situation and have money sent back home by the richer members of the family. I had never heard about this reality before) 

But is the jewish culture all about sons or is it just a coincidence???  Thank god that Ida Haendel could save the girl's honor!!!  I think she had some Jewish heritage! 



January 7, 2010 at 05:11 PM ·

Tom about your "my kid, the doctor" it reminds me the following thing my dad said to me this week:

 When I pass the door with my violin, my father told me: have you done any physics?  I replied: yes but you also know it's my last occasion to do much violin (I'm in Christmas vacation) since the poor thing will be often in it's case when school will start back.  And do you know what he replied me?  " it's just that I want you to do something well of your life" 

I was so insulted!!!   As I shouted back to him that even though violin was not the job the "society" wants us to do, it is still noble and something "well" and that, in the past, it was so praised in some cultures/countries!!!


January 7, 2010 at 07:02 PM ·

Interestingly, I just noticed that there was another thread on this very same topic back in 2009. One of our members, Daniel Broniatowski, cited the very same article that I did - "Did Jews Invent The Violin." I read the posts, and no one arrived at a definitive conclusion as to why so many Jews play violin or why it is that Jewish sons appear to take up violin study more than Jewish daughters do. Oh well, I honestly do not know the answer. The Jews have a history of persecution and suffering in the concentration camps. The violin is an extremely emotional instrument. You can make the violin cry out. I'm thinking of "Schindler's List" as an example. Maybe that has something to do with it. And all of the theories in the article are most interesting, so maybe it's a combination of some of those. Anyway, I think it is a wonderful thing that the violin is so much a part of the Jewish culture! And also of the Hungarian culture! Speaking of the frequency of Jewish boys learning the violin, my cousin's son is Jewish and plays violin. My neighbors across the street have a son and he played violin for a while. And my former neighbor's son played violin. And they are all Jewish!

January 7, 2010 at 07:14 PM ·

Anne-Marie - Ida Haendel, Pamela Frank and Miriam Fried are Jewish, as was Erica Morini.  The list of great Jewish female pianists is much longer.

January 7, 2010 at 07:18 PM ·

Just found these two Jewish violinist lists! A footnote next to the name denotes that one parent was Jewish while the other was not.



  • Leopold Auer
  • Joshua Bell 2
  • Mischa Elman
  • Jascha Heifetz
  • Joseph Joachim
  • Leonid Kogan
  • Fritz Kreisler 4
  • Lord Yehudi Menuhin
  • Nathan Milstein
  • David Oistrakh
  • Itzhak Perlman
  • Gil Shaham
  • Isaac Stern
  • Henryk Szeryng
  • Joseph Szigeti
  • Henryk (Henri) Wieniawski
  • Pinchas Zukerman
  • Joseph Achron
  • Licco Amar
  • Leopold Auer
  • Yuri Bashmet 1
  • Joshua Bell 2
  • Adolf Brodsky
  • Ferdinand David
  • Mischa Elman
  • Aldo Ferraresi 3
  • Carl Flesch
  • Pamela Frank
  • Miriam Fried
  • Joseph Fuchs
  • Felix Galimir
  • Ivry Gitlis
  • Vadim Gluzman
  • Szymon Goldberg
  • Jakab Grün
  • Ida Haendel
  • Emil Hauser
  • Jascha Heifetz
  • Gustav Hollaender
  • Bronislaw Huberman
  • Joseph Joachim
  • Oleg Kagan
  • Ilya Kaler
  • Leonid Kogan
  • Rudolf Kolisch
  • Miriam Kramer
  • Fritz Kreisler 4
  • Gidon Kremer 5
  • Albert Markov
  • Alexander Markov
  • Lord Yehudi Menuhin
  • Anne Akiko Meyers 6
  • Nathan Milstein
  • Shlomo Mintz
  • Mischa Mischakoff
  • Erica Morini 7
  • Tivadar Nachez
  • David Oistrakh
  • Igor Oistrakh 8
  • György Pauk
  • Itzhak Perlman
  • Mark Peskanov
  • Michael Rabin
  • Aaron Rosand
  • Arnold Rosé
  • Alexander Schneider
  • Gil Shaham
  • Hagai Shaham
  • Oscar Shumsky
  • Joseph Silverstein
  • Vladimir Spivakov
  • Tossy Spivakovsky
  • Arnold Steinhardt
  • Isaac Stern
  • Henryk Szeryng
  • Joseph Szigeti
  • Henri Temianka
  • Lionel Tertis
  • Maxim Vengerov
  • Henryk (Henri) Wieniawski
  • Efrem Zimbalist
  • Nikolaj Znaider
  • Pinchas Zukerman
  • Paul Zukofsky


January 7, 2010 at 07:52 PM ·

Tom, fourtunately!!! but I'm sorry to see just about 7 females on the list of "great Jewish violinists" that Carolyn found.   Just to say how sometimes I feel, inconsciously, the stereotype of the woman at home with kids while the husband has the exciting life isn't (or wasn't) quite gone ; (   Surveys have shown that more woman than men study music... They can't just disseapear.

But I don't say this to judge anybody or any culture but it's kind of stricking.   Fourtunately a few courageous ones didn't surrender and got there!  So happy for them!



January 7, 2010 at 08:02 PM ·

I have to add Silvia Marcovici to the list! I never knew that she was Jewish!

January 7, 2010 at 09:49 PM ·

And Toscha Seidel, Oleg Kagan, Benno Rabinoff, Paul Godwin, Phillip Newman, Yuval Yaron, Yulian and Dmitri Sitkovetsky, Valery Oistrakh, Jeno Blau (Eugene Ormandy), Elizabetha Gilels Josef Hassid, Michael Rabin.

And no sure, but probably Ricardo Odnoposoff, Toscha Samaroff, Samuiil Furer, Sascha Jacobsen, Igor Politkovsky, Edward Grach, Peter Rybar and others

January 7, 2010 at 10:11 PM ·

I read Carolyn`s article... hummm.... the Amatis were Catholics, since they are mentioned in their parocchial priest in the "stato d`anime", a kind of census of that time.

In a near future most of the players will be neither Jewish nor Christians: they will came from Asia and Asian families.

January 7, 2010 at 10:20 PM ·

Sure, catholics as Moses and Felix Mendelssohn were lutherans.

January 7, 2010 at 10:31 PM ·

Anne-Marie wrote, in part " Surveys have shown that more woman than men study music... They can't just disseapear."

No, but, they most certainly can be driven out of, or prevented from entering the profession...

I know close to nothing about these issue in the world of music, but consider this:

We are all aware that vastly more women (in the U.S. and in Europe) study the sciences today than they did, say, a century ago. In fact, in many highly regarded graduate schools of the sciences, their numbers are equal to those of men.

Yet, (and this may come as a surprise) the proportion of female senior scientists in the U.S. today is virtually the same as it was a century ago...!

No, they did not "vanish," but they did learn, in extraordinarily high numbers, that they did not find the world of professional science to be to their liking, and. in the language of the profession, they "left the bench."

Might it be the same in the world of music?

All the best,


January 7, 2010 at 11:31 PM ·

I think it's more than just the fact that some jobs are not at their liking... I heard a full Harvard debate on females and sciences and it seems that 3D vision skills, sometimes maths and sexist from the people who hired are also in a big part responsible.  In this debate, a very interesting parallel was made with musicians that auditionned and it seems that behind screens they take 50% of the genders but way more males when no screen.  Quite frightning results!  And Ida Haendel who told that when she became older, invitations for solo concerts from conductors stoped...   There still is some progress to be done (in all cultures including in America and Europe) but this is another debate as I don't want to change the topic of this interesting thread.  


January 8, 2010 at 12:02 AM ·

Hi again Anne-Marie,

It appears that my ironic tone did not come through...

When I "not to their liking" I was commenting in the ways that these women were treated as developing professionals.

My wife has researched this issue quite extensively, and her interest in the topic was generated by her own experiences and observations:

She was trained as a Molecular Biologist at UCLA and Cal Tech years ago. Her own cohort was rather large, and was roughly equally split by gender. She got her Ph.D. about 20 years ago and has stayed in close touch with nearly all of her grad school colleauges.

But today, only one of the women in this large group still identifies herself as a scientist... (and no, that one is not my wife.)

All are very active professionals, but all in other fields. 

They certainly did not all leave the profession in which they were so very deeply invested because they felt that they were being treated well.

From the perspective of these individuals, it is a sad situation, but thinking about this issue from the perspective of the society it really is quite amazing to think of the talent we discard...

All the best,


January 8, 2010 at 01:23 AM ·

oh I see what you mean... yes I don't always catch irony when I read fast sorry! Good luck to your wife in her actual carrer!


January 8, 2010 at 02:19 PM ·

For those of you interested in the Jewish contribution to music, I offer a link to the site from which the list of violinists previously posted comes:

In terms of the contributions of Hungarian Jews, I would note that while their contribution to violin and music is substantial, it is dwarfed by their pre-World War II dominance of Olympic fencing.

January 8, 2010 at 10:35 PM ·

Tom, I'm amazed at the high number of musicians there (violinists, pianists, cellists, conductors)  They are almost all there (I mean my favorite players) about just Repin, Chang, Rostropovich that arent't there in my favorites.     Also for those who think that Jewish just have Jewish sounding names, there is nothing more false. In fact, I would never never have guess for many players that they were Jewish! 


January 9, 2010 at 08:32 AM ·

 Eh, I think a lot had to do with the time period.  Today women are more encouraged to be part of the work force.  At music festivals, I've met plenty of Jewish women violinists, some of whom shared my name. :)  Anyway, when you look at the list of greats, there are just fewer women.  I'm hoping this will change over time.

Oh, yes, I agree about the connection to the violin in particular.  Part of it is tradition.  But part is just that the expression, the intensity, really does capture something in the culture.  It's just an average though.  My grandparents majored in voice and clarinet, so I'm sure they have a different opinion.

January 10, 2010 at 02:53 PM ·

The Amati family may have practiced Catholicism (and may not have been Jewish at all), OR, they may have been “hidden Jews.” During many of the periods of persecution, and especially during the Inquisition, in particular, many Jewish families had to hide their religion or fear persecution or even death. Many practiced their religion in secrecy--many, so secretly that their descendents KNEW that the family never ate pork, or that it said certain prayers only when the family was alone, but not why. Through the generations they had forgotten that they were Jewish. There was a program on one of the satellite channels recently where a Catholic priest (if I remember correctly, I believe he was even a bishop!) discovered that his family was one of the “hidden Jews” of Spain. He now attempts to reconcile his beliefs and bring forth many of the “hidden” things into his open religious practice.

January 11, 2010 at 02:02 AM ·

 Actually,  the same thought crossed my mind, Joel.  I hadn't heard the speculation on the Amatis, and it's interesting.  There was a group of people in Africa who practiced Jewish traditions and it was discovered they were descendants of Jewish people forced to conceal their identity.  Another thing of course is that if people trace their family tree far back in time..... everyone is probably a little bit of everything.

December 16, 2010 at 09:26 PM ·

Well, I'm jewish on a technicallity :) [my mother is] : does that make me a better violinist?

Oh, and thanks :D

December 16, 2010 at 09:29 PM ·

I know many persons with usual french family names that are jewish...  This occur when your  mother is jewish and not your father... Milstein was right about violin playing being part of the jewish culture... Kreisler's mother was catholic. Samuel,the father of Fritz was jewish and even if raised catholic, the young Fritz was always in contact with the jewish community of Vienna. Famous people like Freud use to attend their house... Also Schoenberg and many others...

December 16, 2010 at 09:32 PM ·

elise you is the mother that determines if you are jewish or not... and you are not alone in that case...


Well at least it made you a good doctor and scientist!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL!!!

You are doing well on the violin, that is the most important thing...

December 16, 2010 at 10:37 PM ·

Michael Rabinowitz changed his name to Michael Rabin - I've no idea why. I remember reading that in the Strad many years ago. I don't know why it stuck in my mind ... it's of no real consequence.

December 16, 2010 at 10:52 PM ·

Yes and I read a similar story about Ruggerio Ricci being Roger Richman and Ossy Renardy being Oskar Reiss...

But it seems that the story about Ricci is unfounded...

Also,the real name of David Oistrach is David Kolker...he took his step-father family name (Oistrach) which he considered being his real father...

December 16, 2010 at 11:15 PM ·

Many jews changed their names when escaping from Russia/Ukraine etc (and also Germany) so that they could hide incase the antisemitism followed.  Perhaps thats the story with many of these violinists....


December 16, 2010 at 11:38 PM ·

I believe so Elise...  Even in Hollywood,many actors and producers changed their names because of antisemite in the U.S.A. Their children went to catholic schools and found out later that they were jews...

December 17, 2010 at 02:01 AM ·

 On a somewhat related note, another reason for names changes is Ellis Island.  I had an ancestor whose last name the officials couldn't understand.... so they made his first name both his first name AND his last name.... thus my mom has a different maiden name than she otherwise would have.  It sure is interesting to read what the real original names of violinists and other types of artists were.

December 17, 2010 at 09:02 AM ·

I believe they were still changing peoples names well into the 60s!  "you don't want to be an Igor, you are Henry from now on...". Shudder...

December 17, 2010 at 09:09 AM ·


December 17, 2010 at 10:43 AM ·

Yes, many people changed their surnames to mask their origins, and for good reasons. I wonder why some just shortened their surnames? Maybe just for convenience (obviously not to mask origin), like (Alan) Sugarman to Sugar, (Michael) Rabinowitz to Rabin, etc.

"Ruggiero Ricco" translated literally would be "Curly Roger".


December 17, 2010 at 01:51 PM ·

Nate: Tony Randal was very popular here... I remember his appearance in "Pillow talk" with Rock Huson and Doris Day. A remake of that movie was done with René Zwelleger called "Down with love".  He appeared on many TV shows like the "Tonight Show" and series like "The Odd Couple" He was a fine actor and still is today remembered...

December 17, 2010 at 02:20 PM ·

Marc/Elise - one ambivalent Jew I knew once said in a moment of semi-jest, "Judaism is passed through the mother, like hemophilia."

Actually, in my family, most of the names did not change, but my maternal grandfather's did, which led to a funny story.  My great-grandfather did not approve of my grandmother's marriage to him.  So, he decided to prove that my grandfather was some sort of fraudster.  In Denver, where they lived, great-grandad found someone from my grandfather's village and asked him if he knew anyone from the village with my grandfather's last name.  The guy said no.  Great-grandad then asked my grandfather if he knew anyone with this guy's last name from the village, and my grandfather said no.  So, my great grandfather thought he had caught up my grandfather.   He arranged for the two of them to show up at the pharmacy he owned at the same time, and was highly surprised when they fell into each others' arms, long-lost friends.  He had not taken into account that both had changed last names when they came to the US.  That ended his efforts to kill the marriage.

December 17, 2010 at 02:57 PM ·

Carolyn: Erika Morini was born in Vienna, her father was originally from Trieste, that hardly makes her an hungarian!!


Marc: you'll have to explain us how you differentiate a "jewich name" from a "french" name...There were jews in France (and Spain, Italy, Germany etc...) more than a thousand years ago, in some places even before there were any christians, and the carried names such as Picard, Leroy, Monteux, etc.... that you would , I suppose, characterize as french. Moreover, in several countries, jewish people were named after the city where they lived or came from, such as Toledano, Valenciano etc in Spain, Landauer, Berliner, Weill in Germany, more in Italy and France. And, to make things more complicated, after the "reconquista " and the inquisition, many spanish jews flew to North Africa, Turkey, Russia,England  etc... An example: Maurice Abravanel, famous conductor of the Utah SO was born in Russia, but his name originates in Spain..So, let us not simplify this very complicated subject...

December 17, 2010 at 03:36 PM ·

Daniel: yes indeed it is very complicated... and this was exactly my point...

December 17, 2010 at 03:42 PM ·

The names issue is very complicatd indeed.  Who would guess that Murray Perahia's family originated in Salonika, Greece.

December 17, 2010 at 03:44 PM ·

And Sergio Tiempo carries the name of her mother but his grand-father was a famous jewish artist in Caracas...

December 17, 2010 at 04:50 PM ·

Tom: love your family story.

I like to say that I am a jew (by my mothers birth line) but not jewish by religion.  When I went to Israel I felt a strong sense of belonging with the history, but no real sense of religious connection (er, and not much political either, I hasten to add). 

December 17, 2010 at 07:17 PM ·

Thanks...I will go and wacht it!!!!!

January 21, 2011 at 02:04 AM ·

As a Jewish violinist, I find this to be a very interesting thread. What is particularly puzzling to me is how the number of Jews in music plummeted drastically after my parents' generation. I believe that there are a number of reasons for this.

First, I'd like to propose that many Russian Jews in the early 1900s probably were raised with the idea that a career in music would provide some sort of escape from persecution. There are a number of Jewish artists who fled Communist Russia while on a concert tour.  There was also so much misery in the ghettos of Eastern Europe that Jews also looked for internal ways to escape the poverty and oppression. Turning to music was one prime example.

Interestingly, if you look at paintings and depictions of Chassidic Jewry of the late 1700s-pre WWII - particularly of weddings and celebrations - there is often a violin in the background (usually being played). The Chassidic Jews are followers of a famous Rabbi from Eastern Europe named the Baal Shem Tov (which means "the man of good name" - this was not his name by birth!). The Baal Shem Tov taught (among many other things) that one of the ways to experience the Almighty is through losing yourself in joyful expression of prayer. This was often done through music and dance.

Meanwhile, in western Europe, , there was a huge desire among many Jews to assimilate into the common culture of the time. This was due to the  fact that Jews had recently been accepted into society after hundreds of years of persecution. Unfortunately, the prerequisite of  being accepted was often conversion to Christianity - Mendelssohn's father is a great example. Did you know that Mendelssohn's grandfather was a famous (and controversial) Rabbi?

All in all, Jews had a difficult time in Europe. It's true what they say about great art and creativity coming out of suffering.

So getting back to my question..Where have all the Jewish violinists gone? From my observations and experiences within Jewish communities in both England and the USA, I believe that the average Jew in America and western Europe today does not resonate strongly with the continuing the old world violin traditions. Why? I believe that with security and acceptance comes a desire to build upon these premises and let's be honest, a career in violin playing is not terribly lucrative these days.  I'd also like to suggest that religious Jews of today find it almost incompatible to lead an observant lifestyle (that is, keeping the Sabbath) and play in an orchestra or have a regular performing career.

January 21, 2011 at 03:22 AM ·

 Lets not forget the Jewish composers.  

Of all the music I've played, it is their works that resonate with me most.  Don't know why, but it does.

January 21, 2011 at 11:12 AM ·

I'm a jew by inheritance (mother, not father) and its a little ironic that while my mother was very much in support (german jewish refugee with a strong musical background on the piano) it was my gentile father that originally started me on the violin.

Why ironic?  Well my father was taught violin as a child by none other than the Archbishop of Canterbury (true story).  :)

January 21, 2011 at 12:09 PM ·

Why, you're so very welcome! I'm always happy to be making the music world a better place...

July 7, 2011 at 10:31 AM ·


Nice "thread" (re: Tzitzis?) here; I've found all the comments fascinating.

I did, however, notice [unless I read too fast] that in all the listings of 'Jewish' string players, [my favorite] Philippe Hirschhorn from Riga was not mentioned {did I miss him somewhere above?}.

Also, my colleague (the chief physician here in the clinic where I work & who is also Jewish) is 'convinced' that Julia Fischer is Jewish, or at least of Jewish descent. His [funny/quirky] theory is that, historically, Germans & Slovaks were seldom on 'good-footing' with one another & for her parents to have married (father: German & mother: Slovaki), they must have been Jewish; o-oh, ...okay!  

Oh, and lest we forget, Jelly D`Aranyi, another one of my favorite violinist, who is presumed to be Jewish (she was the grand-niece of Joachim), because she inspired Ravel to compose that awesome, nerve-shatteringly beautiful "Tzigane" {which literally means "Gypsy" - another persecuted, chased & "constantly moving" ethnic group ...with a violin case stuck under their arms}. Oh well.

So, I'll leave you with a haunting Jewish melody (composed by John Williams, no less [!]) "Jewish Town" from Schindler's List; performed by Anja Bukovec - and, I'll leave it up to you guys to figure out if she's Jewish or not (or, whether it even matters - not!).


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