Violinist, violist, conductor
Violinist, violist, conductor—Pinchas Zukerman could have made an outstanding career with only one of these pursuits, but this multi-faceted artist combines all three. Known for his rich tone, masterful technique, and well thought-out interpretations of works for violin and viola, Zukerman performs with the leading orchestras and chamber ensembles worldwide. As a conductor Zukerman has garnered mixed reviews; yet he is in high demand for guest appearances. Seen often on commercial and public television and known as Pinky to his friends, Zuckerman enjoys an almost superstar status.
Pinchas was born into a musical family on July 16, 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel. He is the only child of professional violinist Juhda Zukerman and Miriam (Lieberman-Skotchilas) Zukerman, who, concentration-camp survivors from Poland, had emigrated to Israel in 1947. At age five, Pinchas learned to play a recorder given to him by his father. After later trying and disliking the clarinet, he settled on the violin, which his father taught him. At age eight, he began studying with llona Feher, the noted Hungarian violinist who was also the early teacher of Shmuel Ashkenasi and Shlomo Mintz (see Newsmakers entry), at the Israel conservatory and the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv.
During a visit to Israel in 1961, celebrated cellist Pablo Casals and world famous violinist Isaac Stern heard Zukerman perform. Stern was impressed enough that he guided the course of the young violinist’s education, even becoming his legal guardian to do so. With support from the American-Israel Cultural Foundation and scholarships from Juilliard and the Helena Rubinstein Foundation, Zuckerman was able to study violin and, beginning at agefourteen, viola with the famous string teacher Ivan Galamian at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City.
While studying at the Juilliard School, Zukerman also attended the Professional Children’s School and the High School of Performing Arts, living with the parents of pianist Eugene Isotomin.
Zukerman, who admits that he was an arrogant child prodigy, found it difficult to adjust to life in New York City—he did not then speak English—and to being one of many musical prodigies. He rebelled against Galamian’s insistence that he concentrate on the basics and maintain a rigid practice schedule, and often skipped school and roamed the streets. Finally, Stern took Zukerman to task. “I knew I had something in me, something on the violin that I had to say,” Zukerman told David Hawley of the St.Paul Pioneer Press, “And I knew that eventually I was going to say it. With the guidance of these people it luckily worked out.”
Zukerman ended his formal schooling when on May 16,
Born July 16, 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel; came to United States, 1962; son of Yehuda and Miriam Lieberman Zukerman; married Eugenia Rich, May 26, 1968 (divorced); children: Natalia, Arianna; married Tuesday Weld, 1985. Education: Attended Juilliard School of Music, 1965-68.
Concert violinist 1968—. With impresario, Sol Hurok, 1967-76; conductor, soloist English Chamber Orchestra, 1974, Mostly Mozart Festival, N.Y.C., 1975; guest conductor, soloist Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, N.Y. Philharmonic Orchestra; music dir. South Bank Festival, London, 1978-80, St. Paul Chamber Orch., 1980-87; toured with Isaac Stern; mem. trio with Daniel Barenboim and Jacqueline du Pre; recording artist with CBS, EMI, Philips Classics labels.
Awards: Winner International Levintritt Competition, 1967.
Addresses: Office: c/o Shirley Kirshbaum & Assocs. 711 West End Ave., New York, NY 10025.
1967, he was co-winner with Kyung Wha Chung of Korea of the Leventritt International Competition. Publicity from this prize and his replacing Stern, who was ill, in a series of concerts set the stage for Zuckerman’s solo career. Since then he has performed numerous solo recitals on both violin and viola and chamber music with many other noted artists, including Stern, violinist Itzhak Perlman (see Musicians entry), cellist Jacqueline Du Pre, flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal (see Musicians entry), and the Guarneri and Cleveland quartets.
Though Zukerman had begun to study conducting while at theJuilliard School, he first became actively interested inconducting in the late 1960s when he played with the English Chamber Orchestra directed by Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim. Encouraged by members of the orchestra, Zukerman conducted from the concertmaster’s chair works by Bach and Vivaldi. Pieces by eighteenth-century composers were often conducted by the lead violin before the advent of the conductor as we now know it. Zuckerman became more and more experienced at leading the group while playing the violin and in 1974 officially made his conducting debut with the English Chamber Orchestra. While he has since then guest conducted most of the major orchestras in the United States, including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the National Symphony, reviews of his conducting are mixed.
In 1980 Zukerman assumed the directorship of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO), the nation’s only full-time professional chamber orchestra. During his seven-year tenure there, Zukerman increased attendence threefold, was instrumental in the building of a permanent home for the orchestra, increased the number of musicians in the ensemble, made eight albums on major labels, and led the orchestra on tours of the United States and South America. He often performed as soloist with the SPCO, conducting from the concert-master’s chair. Zukerman, tired of the administrative duties required of a music director, decided to leave the SPCO after the 1987 season, though he was offered a longer contract.
Since then Zukerman has increased his solo performance schedule and limited his conducting to guest appearances and the principal guest conductorship of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s International Festival. Zukerman limits his teaching to a few master classes in the summer, usually at music festivals, such as those at Aspen, Colorado, and Tanglewood, Massachusetts.
Zukerman lays claim to an impressive discography numbering more than seventy-five releases, which are widely representative of the violin and viola repertoire. His catalog of recordings for Angel, CBS Masterworks, Deutsche Grammaphon, London Records, Philips Classics, and RCA contains more than a dozen Grammy nominations and two awards: “Best Classical Performance—Instrumental Soloist with Orchestra” for the Isaac Stern Sixtieth Anniversary Celebration, which contains Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, recorded as a tribute to Zukerman’s long-time supporter; “Best Chamber Music Performance” for his Angel/EMI release of Moszkowski’s Suite for Two Violins and Piano, Shostakovich’s Three Violin Duos, and Prokofiev’s Sonata for Two Violins.
After collapsing from exhaustion in March 1981, Zuckerman has been careful to pace himself more conservatively, though he has sacrificed none of the diversity of his efforts. He once told The Strad, “The diversity of my career has allowed me to explore all aspects of music, and I feel that my artistic life today is on a level of greater maturity. I hope that when the day comes that my abilities as a soloist begin to deteriorate, I will have the strength of character to retire from the concert stage and continue my contribution to music in other ways.”
As a violinist, Zukerman plays a Guarnerius “del Gesu” instrument.
Bach: Violin Concerto; Brandenberg Concerto No. 3, CBS.
Complete Forty-Four Violin Duos of Bartok (with Itzhak Perlman, violin), EMI/Angel.
Bartok: Violin Concerto, CBS.
Beethoven:Romances for Violin and Orchestra Nos. 1 and 2, DG.
Beethoven:Violin Concerto, Op. 61, DG.
Berg: Violin Concerto, CBS.
Bloch: Nigun from Baal Shem; Kabalevsky: Violin Concerto; Wienawski: Violin Concerto No. 2, CBS.
Boiling: Suite for Violin and Jazz Piano, CBS.
Brahms: Sonata for Violin and Piano; Sonata for Viola and Piano, DG.
Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1; Lalo: Symphony Espagnole, CBS.
Debussy:Violin Sonata No. 3; Faure:Sonata Op. 13 “Berceuse,” CBS.
Dohnanyi:Serenade, Op. 10; Beethoven:Serenade, Op. 8, CBS.
Elgar:Violin Concerto, CBS. Greatest Hits: The Violin, CBS.
Haydn:Violin Concerto No. 1; Symphonia Concertante, DG.
Issac Stern Sixtieth Anniversary Celebration (contains Bach: Concerto for Two Violins, Concerto for Three Violins; Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola [Isaac Stern violin; Itzhak Perlman, violin]), CBS.
Mendelssohn:Violin Concerto, CBS.
Mozart:Violin Concertos No. 4 and 5, CBS.
Moszkowski:Suite for Two Violins and Piano; Shostakovich: Three Violin Duos; Prokofiev:Sonata for Two Violins, Op. 56 (with Itzhak Perlman, violin and Samuel Sanders, piano), EMI/Angel.
Music of Fritz Kreisler, CBS.
Sibelius:Violin Concerto, Op. 47, DG.
Tchaikovsky/Mendelssohn:Violin Concertos, CBS.
Vaughan Williams:The Lark Ascending, DG.
Vieuxtemps:Violin Concerto No.5; Wieniawski:Polonaise, Op. 4; Saint-Saens:Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso; Chausson: Poeme, CBS.
Vivaldi:The Four Seasons, CBS.
Vivaldi:Violin Concertos Op. 8 (Nos. 5-8),CBS.
Vivaldi:Violin Concertos, Op. 8 (Nos. 9-12),CBS.
Arizona Republic, November 13, 1983.
Chicago Sun-Times, November 15, 1981.
Chicago Tribune, December 22, 1985; February 29, 1989.
Chronicle (San Francisco), February 25, 1981.
Dallas Times-Herald, January 23, 1985; February 27, 1989.
Denver Post, November 16, 1987.
Los Angeles Times, January 10, 1988.
Miami Herald, December 22, 1987.
Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 9, 1986; May 24, 1987.
Musical America, December 1984.
Saint Paul Pioneer Press, January 9, 1986.
Santa Barbara News-Press, October 26, 1986.
Seattle Times, January 23, 1983.
The Strad, October 1987; April 1988.
The Washington Post, April 18, 1987; April 7, 1989.
—Jeanne M. Lesinski
One of the premier musicians to emerge in the second half of the twentieth century, Pinchas Zukerman (born 1948) was not only a brilliant instrumentalist on the violin and viola but a chamber musician and conductor as well. In 1998, nearly thirty years after its founding, Zukerman was named music director of Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra.
Zukerman was born on July 16, 1948, in Tel Aviv, Israel, son of Yehuda (Juhda), a professional violinist, and Miriam (Lieberman-Skotchilas) Zukerman. His parents survived the Nazi concentration camps and moved from Poland to Israel in 1947. It was a musical family, and when Pinchas was only five, he began to study music with his father. He first learned to play the recorder and clarinet and later the violin, his father's instrument. At age eight, Zukerman began studies at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv with Ilona Feher, a noted violinist who had immigrated to Israel from Hungary.
While visiting Israel in 1961, Spanish-born cellist Pablo Casals and Russian-born violin virtuoso Isaac Stern heard Zukerman play. So impressed was Stern that he helped to guide the teenager's musical education. In 1962, with the support of Stern and the Helen Rubenstein and America-Israel Cultural foundations, Zukerman came to New York to study at the Juilliard School with Ivan Galanian. Galanian, born in Iran in 1903 and educated in Russia and France, was one of the best-known violin teachers of the 20th century. With Galanian, Zukerman first studied violin and later the viola. While studying at Juilliard, Zukerman lived with the parents of pianist Eugene Isotomin and rounded out his education by attending both the Professional Children's School and the High School for Performing Arts.
Zukerman's studies with Galanian did not always go smoothly. The prodigy bristled under Galanian's tutelage, resisting his teacher's insistence that he maintain a rigorous practice schedule and concentrate on the basics. He later admitted to an interviewer that he often skipped school and roamed the New York streets. Disappointed by Zukerman's attitude, Stern, his mentor, told him to take his studies more seriously or risk being sent back to Israel. The young musician buckled down.
Performed and Conducted
In 1967 Zukerman shared with Kyung Wha Chung of Korea first prize in the 25th annual Leventritt International Competition. On the strength of his Leventritt win and the added exposure he received when he replaced Stern, who had fallen ill, in a series of concerts, Zukerman's solo career was launched. In an interview with David Hawley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, he later said of his student days: "I knew I had something in me, something on the violin I had to say. And I knew that eventually I was going to say it. With the guidance of these people [Stern and Galanian] it luckily worked out." In 1968 Zukerman married Eugenia Rich. The couple had two daughters, Natalia and Arianna, but later divorced.
Although his studies at Juilliard focused on instrumental instruction, Zukerman was exposed to the fundamentals of conducting as well. He first became seriously interested in conducting in the late 1960s when he played with the English Chamber Orchestra, which was conducted by Daniel Barenboim, a fellow Israeli. As the lead violinist, or concertmaster, of the orchestra, Zukerman was given an opportunity to conduct selected works by Bach and Vivaldi, from the first violinist's chair, a tradition that developed before the emergence of the modern-day conductor. In 1974 he made his official conducting debut with the English Chamber Orchestra. In the years that followed he served as a guest conductor with some of the premier symphony orchestras of the United States, including the New York Philharmonic, the National Symphony, Boston Symphony, and Los Angeles Philharmonic.
In 1980 Zukerman took over as musical director of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, a position he held for seven seasons. During his stay in St. Paul, he was credited with increasing the number of musicians, tripling attendance at local concerts, and leading the drive for the construction of the Ordway Theatre, the permanent home of the orchestra. Under his direction, the orchestra made eight albums on major labels and toured extensively throughout the United States and South America. Although his focus at St. Paul was on conducting, he did not abandon his solo career, performing occasionally and conducting from the concertmaster's chair. While in St. Paul, Zukerman married actress Tuesday Weld in 1985. They later divorced. His decision to leave St. Paul in 1987 was motivated largely by his growing dislike for the administrative side of his responsibilities as music director.
Back to Solo Career
Although Zukerman again focused on his solo career after leaving St. Paul, he continued to direct frequently. For several years, he limited his conducting career to seasonal events. He served as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Fest, conductor of London's South Bank Festival, and conductor of the Dallas Symphony's International Summer Music Festival, each for three years. He also was named principal guest conductor of the Dallas Symphony for two years.
Throughout the late 1980s and into the 1990s, Zukerman appeared as a solo performer with some of the world's finest orchestras. He also collaborated frequently with some of the music world's best-known musicians, sharing the stage with such notables as Stern, violinist Itzhak Perlman, cellist Ralph Kirshbaum, pianist Yefim Bronfman, pianist Marc Neikrug, cellist Jacqueline Du Pre, flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal, and the Guarneri and Cleveland string quartets.
Zukerman recorded extensively, and his discography grew to more than 100 titles by 2002. He won two Grammy Awards for his recordings—Best Chamber Music Performance in 1980 and Best Classical Performance by an Instrumental Soloist without Orchestra in 1981. Through 2001, he had been nominated for a total of 21 Grammy Awards. Zukerman joined cellist Ralph Kirshbaum and pianist John Browning to record the Brahms Double and Beethoven Triple Concertos with Christoph Eschenbach conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, released in 1998 on BMG Classics/RCA Victor Red Seal. Other recordings for BMG included the complete violin/piano and viola/piano repertoire of Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and Schumann, performed with pianist Marc Neikrug. Decca released a recording of Schubert's Piano Trios performed by pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy, cellist Lynn Harrell, and Zukerman. Zukerman's earlier recordings were on the Angel, CBS, Deutsche Grammophon, London, and Phillips labels.
In the late 1990s, Zukerman returned to conducting. In April 1998, he was named music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada. Based in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, the orchestra was founded in 1969 as the resident orchestra of the newly completed National Arts Centre. His association with the orchestra stretched back to 1976, when he first appeared with the group as a soloist. In 1990 he led the orchestra on a successful tour of Europe.
Young Artists Program
As the beneficiary of the mentoring of Stern, Casals, and other great musicians, Zukerman devoted a good deal of time and energy to sharing his expertise with promising young musicians. A year after taking over as music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, he founded the orchestra's Young Artists Program, a summer training program for talented young classical musicians. The program began in the summer of 1999 with only 12 violin and viola students and expanded to 33 within two years. In June 2001, he launched an annual two-week training course for young would-be conductors, and he hoped eventually to begin a program for promising young opera singers. When it was first launched, the Young Artists Program was open only to musicians from Canada, but Zukerman opened it to promising young performers from around the world. "The first couple of years, it was confined to the village," he told Maclean's in 2001. "Now, it's Canadians-plus. People have finally come to the realization that we are a global institution."
In July 2001, Maclean's profiled Zukerman's work with 13-year-old Canadian violin prodigy Caitlin Tully, the youngest student in his 2001 Young Artists Program. Zukerman first heard Tully at a master class he was giving in Vancouver, her hometown. The following year Tully came to Ottawa for her first summer in the Young Artists Program. "Just being there with that sound, just hearing him play, opens up new ideas," she told the Canadian magazine.
Although his position in Ottawa kept him extremely busy, Zukerman also found time to serve as music director of the Ilona Feher Music Center in Holon, Israel, which he founded, and as chairman of the Pinchas Zukerman Performance Program at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. He was also artist in residence of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
Complete Marquis Who's Who, Marquis Who's Who, 2001.
Contemporary Musicians, Gale Research, 1990.
Maclean's, July 30, 2001.
"About Pinchas Zukerman," Pittsburgh Symphony,http://www.pittsburghsymphony.org/ (January 28, 2002).
"Pinchas Zukerman: Biography," Kirschbaum Demler & Associates Inc.,http://www.skassoc.com/BioZukerman.htm (January 22, 2002). □
Zukerman, Pinchas, outstanding Israeli violinist, violisi, and conductor; b. Tel Aviv, July 16, 1948. He began to study music with his father, taking up the violin at age 6; he then enrolled at the Tel Aviv Academy of Music, where he studied with Ilona Feher. With the encouragement of Isaac Stern and Pablo Casals, he became a scholarship student at the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y, where he studied with Ivan Galamian (1961-67). In 1967 he shared 1st prize in the Leventritt Competition in N.Y. with Kyung-Wha Chung, and then launched a brilliant career as a soloist with the major American and European orchs. He also appeared as both violinist and violisi in recitals with Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman. He subsequently devoted part of his time to conducting, appearing as a guest conductor with the N.Y. Phil., Philadelphia Orch., Boston Sym. Orch., Los Angeles Phil., and many others. From 1980 to 1987 he was music director of the St. Paul (Minn.) Chamber Orch. He was principal guest conductor of the Dallas Sym. Orch. summer music festival (1990-92). In 1993 he became a teacher at the Manhattan School of Music in N.Y. During the 1994-95 season, he made a world tour as a conductor with the English Chamber Orch. He was married to Eugenia Zukerman from 1968 to 1985, then to the American actress Tuesday Weld. His performances as a violinist are distinguished by their innate emotional élan and modern virtuoso technique.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire