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Schwarz, Boris

Schwarz, Boris

Schwarz, Boris, distinguished Russian-born American violinist, teacher, and musicologist; b. St. Petersburg, March 26, 1906; d. N.Y., Dec. 31, 1983. He went to Berlin as a youth; at the age of 14, made his debut as a violinist in Hannover, accompanied at the piano by his father, Joseph Schwarz. He took violin lessons with Flesch in Berlin (1922–25) and Thibaud and Capet in Paris (1925–26); subsequently took courses in musicology with Sachs, Schering, and Wolf at the Univ. of Berlin (1930–36). In 1936 he emigrated to the U.S., becoming a naturalized American citizen in 1943. He completed his musicological studies with Lang at Columbia Univ. (Ph.D., 1950, with the diss. French Instrumental Music Between the Revolutions, 1789–1830; publ. in N.Y., 1950; second ed., rev., 1983). After serving as concertmaster of the Indianapolis Sym. Orch. (1937–38) and playing in the NBC Sym. Orch. in N.Y. (1938–39), he was a prof. of music at Queens Coll. of the City Univ. of N.Y. (1941–76), where he founded (1945) the Queens Coll. Orch. Soc, conducting annual concerts of symphonic and choral music; also was chairman of its music dept. (1948–51; 1952–55). In 1959–60 he held a Guggenheim fellowship. A trilingual writer, he was fluent in Russian, German, and English; contributed numerous articles, mostly on Russian music, to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (1980) and to various music journals. His valuable study, Music and Musical Life in Soviet Russia, 1917–1970 (N.Y, 1972; second ed., rev., 1983), was highly critical of certain aspects of the musical situation in Russia; it won an award from ASCAP as the best book on music criticism. His second book, Great Masters of the Violin (N.Y, 1983), is valuable for its accuracy of documentation.


M. Brown, ed., Russian and Soviet Music: Essays for B. S. (Ann Arbor, 1984).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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