May 16, 2022



Igor Oistrakh obituary | Classical new music

Despite the fact that Igor Oistrakh, who has died aged 90, was a fantastic violinist in his individual suitable, he often lived in the shadow of his father, David. Igor may well not have inherited the uncommon mixture of approach and musicianship of David Oistrakh, one particular of the greats of 20th-century violin actively playing, but he produced a fine international vocation, and with a unique history may effectively have achieved much more open recognition of his capacity and achievements.

At the time of Igor’s birth in Odessa, on the south-west coastline of Ukraine, the area was element of the Soviet Union: among the the striking quantity of other soloists it manufactured were being the violinists Mischa Elman, Isaac Stern and Nathan Milstein, and pianists Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels. Igor realized from an early age what was envisioned of him. Both equally his mother and father were musicians his mother, Tamara Rotaryova, was a great pianist, and his father inspired him to get started lessons as a younger boy and to get the job done tricky.

David, although frequently away, felt dependable for Igor’s musical development and despatched frequent letters of encouragement. He was determined that his only son would perform the violin, in the spirit of a respect for really hard operate and for the price of obtaining of information from a young age. He warned his son of the unenviable life of his very own lazy schoolfriends, and admonished him to function really hard and not to make his mom cry.

Igor Oistrakh, still left, and Yehudi Menuhin at the Royal Pageant Corridor, London, in 1989. Photograph: Reuters/Alamy

Immediately after two decades with his very first trainer, Valeria Merenblum, Igor grew drained of failing to produce the sorts of appears on the violin that his father did, and turned to the piano. Still a photograph of dad and mom and son in their backyard garden exhibits a 7-yr-outdated Igor hunting accomplished and self-assured.

It was not right until the spouse and children moved to Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) at the outbreak of the next world war, when Igor was 11, and experienced violin lessons with his father’s instructor, Pyotr Stolyarsky, that there was any genuine development. Throughout just 3 months, Stolyarsky was ready to influence Igor that he should really not just perform the violin for the reason that his parents desired him to, but due to the fact it was stimulating and exciting. Oistrakh then went to the Central Songs College in Moscow, finding out yet again with Merenblum, and thrived in an surroundings that was creating some of the world’s greatest musicians. Igor recalled enjoying violin sonatas with Gennady Rozhdestvensky, later on identified as a conductor, but a amazing pianist as a student.

Oistrakh started out lessons with his father at the Moscow Conservatoire in 1949. Several of the lessons took put at house. Expectations were being higher, his father demanding, exacting and vital. The encouragement was for good approach. He did not insist on musical imitation, and the more youthful Oistrakh was established to adhere to his own instincts in overall performance, frequently rejecting his father’s tips of interpretation, the use of vibrato, and the option of tempo. In 1952, Igor received the first prize in the Global Wieniawski Competitiveness in Poland, and the next calendar year produced his debut in London in the Beethoven and Khachaturian concertos. Coming shortly right after the demise of Stalin, this and his father’s London debut in 1954 marked substantial steps in the cultural thaw for Soviet artists encouraged by the impresario Victor Hochhauser.

Igor Oistrakh, left, and his father, David, in 1961.
Igor Oistrakh, remaining, and his father, David, in 1961. Photograph: Hulton Deutsch/Corbis/Getty Images

Little by little the two musicians began to work jointly, providing live shows of functions for two violins, for violin and viola (Igor commonly actively playing the violin to his father’s viola), or with Igor taking part in and his father conducting. Their celebrated performances of the Bach Double Concerto for two violins started out in 1947, but the commencing of their several a long time as a duo on the intercontinental stage and in the recording studio started out later, at the end of the 1950s.

Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, will work by Wieniawski and Sarasate, and trio sonatas by Leclair and Tartini, with Vladimir Yampolsky on the piano, ended up all aspect of their repertoire. A 1961 recording of duos by Haydn, Spohr, Honegger and Prokofiev (the Sonata Op 56) won the Grand Prix du Disque. The traditional recording of father and son taking part in the Bach Double Concerto (1962) has the musicians interweaving seamlessly in excellent coordination a critic explained the pair as “King David and Prince Igor”.

Igor and David Oistrakh participating in Bach’s Double Concerto in 1974

Igor also made quite a few recordings of the main solo concerto repertoire, which includes the Elgar Violin Concerto, the Shostakovich No 1, conducted by the composer’s son Maxim, and the Brahms with the London Symphony Orchestra. In 1958 he turned his father’s assistant at the Moscow Conservatoire. 7 decades afterwards he grew to become a whole professor and taught a course, combining this with engagements as a violinist and conductor and a hectic unbiased solo and recording vocation, which took him all more than the planet.

On the unanticipated dying of his father in 1975, Igor formed a different violin duo with his son, Valery, a wonderful musician in his have right. Following the collapse of the USSR he settled in Brussels, and in 1996 was appointed professor at the Koninklijk Conservatorium there.

With his pianist wife, Natalia Zertsalova, he recorded the full sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven, and for the latter they have been awarded honorary membership of the Beethoven Modern society in Bonn. Igor’s other honours integrated the presidency of the Russian section of the European String Academics Affiliation, and in Belgium that of the César Franck Foundation and honorary membership of the Ysaÿe Basis. A jury member of numerous intercontinental violin competitions, in 1978 he chaired the Tchaikovsky competitiveness.

In 2004 Igor and his son gave a London live performance to mark the 50th anniversary of David’s debut there, and Valery is also now a professor at the Koninklijk Conservatorium.

Natalia died in 2017, and Igor is survived by Valery.

Igor Davidovich Oistrakh, violinist, born 27 April 1931 died 14 August 2021