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Oscar Shumsky (March 23, 1917 in Philadelphia – July 24, 2000 in Rye, New York) was an American violinist and conductor born to Russian-Jewish parents.


Oscar Shumsky started learning the violin at the age of three, and made his concert debut at the age of seven with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski, who declared him to be "the most astounding genius I have ever heard". Fritz Kreisler took a special interest in him, and he played Kreisler's own cadenzas to the Beethoven violin concerto to him after learning them by ear. He was a pupil of Leopold Auer from 1925 and studied at the Curtis Institute of Music from 1928 to 1936, continuing his studies with Efrem Zimbalist after Auer's death in 1930. His New York debut was in 1934 and his Vienna debut was in 1936. He played first violin in the Primrose Quartet from 1939, and the same year joined the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini. During the Second World War, he served in the U.S. Navy.

His violin was a Stradivari of 1715 known as 'Ex-Pierre Rode' or the 'Duke of Cambridge'. The violin has been previously owned by Pierre Rode at one point. It has been used by Shumsky to recorded the complete 24 Caprices by Rode. He tells how he came to acquire the instrument:

He taught at the Curtis Institute, Philadelphia, Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore, Yale University, and, from 1953, the Juilliard School in New York. From 1959 to 1967, he co-directed the Stratford Festival (in Ontario) with Glenn Gould, with whom he played regularly at the festival and made some recordings for T.V. broadcast. Around this time, he appeared regularly as a soloist with American orchestras. His conducting debut was in 1959 with the Canadian National Festival Orchestra; he later conducted the Westchester Symphony Orchestra and Empire Sinfonietta in New York, and the New Jersey Colonial Symphony Orchestra. He joined the Bach Aria Group in the early 1960s. He was granted a Ford Foundation Award in 1965.

He returned to concerts and recordings in 1981, performing in the USA and in Britain for the first time in 30 years; a programme he gave for solo violin led to great acclaim:

He recorded Ysaÿe's solo violin sonatas op.27 and Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin, the Beethoven violin concerto, Bach's single and double violin concertos, Mozart's 4th and 5th violin concertos, and other works, including the two Brahms Viola Sonatas on the viola.[1] Many of these recordings have not been released on CD.

Many fellow violinists consider him to be one of the great violinists of the century; David Oistrakh called him "one of the world's greatest violinists" and the New Grove dictionary says of him: 'He was a player of virtuoso technique, pure style and refined taste; yet never sought recognition as a soloist, preferring to concentrate on teaching, chamber music playing and conducting.'


  • Boris Schwarz/Margaret Campbell: 'Shumsky, Oscar', Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed 2007-06-25), http://www.grovemusic.com/
  • Robin Stowell: notes to Shumsky's recording of Pierre Rode: 24 Caprices for Solo Violin, ebs 6007

Further reading[edit]

  • M. Campbell: The Great Violinists
  • B. Schwarz: Great Masters of the Violin
  • J. Creighton: Discopaedia of the Violin, 1889–1971 (Toronto, 1974)
  • D. Rooney: Unshaken Ideals, in The Strad XCVIII (1987)

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Shumsky — Please support Wikipedia.
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6334 videos foundNext > 

Oscar Shumsky - Brahms Violin Concerto (part 1 of 5)

The great American violinist, student of Auer and Zimbalist, with Mariss Jansons and the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra, in a Royal Albert Hall 'Prom' concert, ...

Oscar Shumsky -Ponce Estrellita & Bach Concerto A minor-II

00:00 Ponce Estrellita 03:15 Bach Violin Concerto in A minor, II Two contrasting examples of the style and lifespan of the great Oscar Shumsky.

Glenn Gould - Richard Strauss, Sonata For Violin And Piano Op.18 - I [ 1962 ]

Richard Strauss [ 1864 - 1949 ], Sonata For Violin And Piano Op.18 In E Flat Major[ 1962 ] 1st Movement ; Allegro ma non troppo Pianist ; Glenn Gould [ 1932 ...

Bach, Partita No 1 in B minor BWV 1002 , Oscar shumsky

Oscar Shumsky Plays/Conducts

Strauss: "Entrance and Dance of the Tailors" from "Bourgeois Gentilhomme". I had missed that you can see that Glenn Gould conducting while OS is playing.

Oscar Shumsky (1917 - 2000) Wieniawski, Chopin(De Sarasate) ea.wmv

Wieniawski Polonaise in A Wieniawski Polonaise in D major for violin & concerto Chopin (De Sarasate) Nocturne in E flat Kern Jerome Yesterday.

Shumsky-Kaye Kreisler Complete Works.wmv

Bach - Chaconne from Partita for Solo Violin N°2 in D Minor BWV 1004 - Oscar Shumsky

Finding the right words or the most accurate way to describe Mr Oscar Shumsky's artistry is not an easy task. His musicianship is just unique in the History of ...

Oscar Shumsky plays Viotti Violin Concerto No.22 1stmov.

Piano: Vladimir Sokoloff r.1950 Shumsky's portrait by Louis Levin 1942.

Oscar Shumsky plays Jerome Kern's Yesterdays

6334 videos foundNext > 

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