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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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49 news items


Tue, 17 Nov 2015 23:52:30 -0800

His re-arrival as a pianist in 1981 turned into a career that, in recent years, included Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recitals and ambitious recording. Chamber music partners included violinists Arnold Steinhardt, Oscar Shumsky, and Aaron Rosand, ...

Slipped Disc

Slipped Disc
Mon, 18 May 2015 03:14:01 -0700

It's a set of the six Ysaye sonatas by the UK-Russian violinist Alina Ibragimova who, in my view, imposes herself on the sonatas with an authority that is arrestingly quiet. I cannot recall any artist who keeps the level down with such fierce ...
Audiophile Audition
Thu, 18 Jun 2015 22:15:00 -0700

Lucien Caillet – Studio Recordings, 1936-1946 = BACH (arr. Caillet): Prelude and Fugue in F Minor, BWV 535; Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, BWV 147; Preludio from Violin Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006; “Little” Fugue in G Minor, BWV 578; PURCELL (arr.

South Florida Classical Review

South Florida Classical Review
Tue, 23 Dec 2014 21:15:56 -0800

The venerable trio was in top form in their annual concert for Friends of Chamber Music in February. Soaring Schubert and Mendelssohn were astutely paired with the rarely heard Dvorak Piano Trio No. 2, the players capturing a perfect mix of nostalgia ...


Wed, 17 Oct 2012 08:11:41 -0700

He studied at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore with Oscar Shumsky and later with Ivan Galamian and William Kroll. During World War II, he served in Europe with an Army armored division until he was assigned to Special Services and played 400 ...
Broadway World
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 11:55:18 -0700

Individual tickets and subscriptions are now on sale for the 36th season of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the third season of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. The seven-concert series includes timeless masterpieces and extraordinary ...

Scotland on Sunday

Scotland on Sunday
Sat, 01 Feb 2014 08:28:08 -0800

... Tunnell as an inspirational leader, was already awash with regular top soloists and conductors – violinist Oscar Shumsky, conductor James Conlon, Mitsuko Uchida's complete Mozart piano concerto series and, of course, Mackerras's initial appearances.


Thu, 08 Nov 2012 22:11:15 -0800

Both come from intensely musical families; both studied at Juilliard with the noted violinist/pedagogue Oscar Shumsky; both were concertmasters of the school's top orchestras; both were prizewinners in major international competitions in the middle 1970s.

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