Shumsky, Oscar

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Shumsky, Oscar

Shumsky, Oscar , esteemed American violinist, conductor, and pedagogue; b. Philadelphia, March 23, 1917; d. Rye, N.Y., July 24, 2000. He commenced violin lessons at an early age and made his debut with Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orch. as a soloist in Suk’s Fantasy for Violin and Orch. when he was only 8 (March 27, 1925); that same year he began private lessons with Auer, and then continued training with him at the Curtis Inst. of Music in Philadelphia (1928–30), where he subsequently studied with Zimbalist (1930–36). After further private studies with Zimbalist (1936–38), he played in the NBC Sym. Orch. in N.Y. (1939–42); also was first violinist in the Primrose Quartet, and appeared as a soloist with the leading U.S. orchs.; later was solo violinist with the Bach Aria Group. In 1959 he made his debut as a conductor with the Canadian National Festival Orch.; then was music director of the Canadian Stratford Festival (1959–67). In 1942 he became a teacher at the Peabody Cons. of Music in Baltimore; in 1953 he joined the staff of the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y.; also taught at the Curtis Inst. of Music (1961–65) and at the Yale School of Music (from 1975). He gave up teaching in 1981 to concentrate on his performance activities. His son, Eric Shumsky (b. Port Chester, N.Y, Dec. 7, 1953), is a violist who appeared frequently with his father in chamber music concerts.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire