SPIVAKOVSKY, TOSSY (1906/7–1998), Russian-American violinist. Spivakovsky was born in Odessa. He studied with the Italian violinist Arrigo Serato and with Willy Hess in Berlin, where he made his concert debut at the age of ten. Spivakovsky became leader of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1926. He then toured Europe (1920–33) and Australia (1933–39), where he taught at the Melbourne Conservatorium (1934–39).
In 1940 he settled in the United States and made his debut at New York's Town Hall. Playing with the Cleveland Orchestra in 1943, Spivakovsky introduced Bartok's Violin Concerto to the United States. He subsequently appeared with the most important American orchestras. In addition to an active performing career, Spivakovsky taught violin and chamber music at the Juilliard School from 1974 to 1989. His repertory ranged from the classics to contemporary works. A brilliant virtuoso, he had an exceptionally fast vibrato and advocated new bowing techniques which proved controversial. He was capable of frequently expressive playing with a highly volatile temperament. He published violin transcriptions and "Polyphony in Bach's Works for Solo Violin," in The Music Review, 28:4 (Nov. 1967), 277–88.
Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (1997); "Tossy Spivakovsky Dies" (obituary), in: The Strad, 109 (Oct. 1998), 1041; J. Gottlieb, "The Juilliard School Library and Its Special Collections," in: Notes, 56 (Sept. 1999), 11–26.
[Max Loppert /
Naama Ramot (2nd ed.)]