Ricci, Ruggiero , celebrated American violinist; b. San Bruno, Calif., July 24, 1918. His musical education was lovingly fostered by his father, along with that of 6 of his siblings, every one of whom started out as a musician, and 2 of whom, the cellist Giorgio Ricci and the violinist Emma Ricci, achieved the rank of professional performer. Ruggiero studied violin with Louis Persinger, and made a sensational appearance at a public concert in San Francisco on Nov. 15, 1928, when he was 10 years old, with his teacher accompanying him at the piano. On Oct. 20, 1929, he played in N.Y.; he embarked on an international concert tour in 1932. He successfully negotiated the perilous transition from child prodigy to serious artist. He accumulated a formidable repertoire of about 60 violin concertos, including all the violin works of Paganini; ed. the newly discovered MS of Paganini’s early Violin Concerto, presumed to have been composed c. 1815, and gave its first N.Y. perf. with the American Sym. Orch. on Oct. 7, 1977; he also gave the first performances of violin concertos by several modern composers, among them Alberto Gin-astera (1963) and Gottfried von Einem (1970). During World War II, he served as “entertainment specialist” with the U.S. Army Air Force. After the end of the war, he returned to the concert stage; made several world tours, which included South America, Australia, Japan, and Russia; he also gave master courses at the N.C. School of the Arts, Ind. Univ., and the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. He owns a 1734 Guarnerius del Gesù violin. In 1978 he celebrated a “Golden Jubilee,” marking half a century of his professional career.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire