Rudolf Barshai: The Path of a Violist and His Viola Arrangements

Artamonova, Elena orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2221-1955 (2023) Rudolf Barshai: The Path of a Violist and His Viola Arrangements. Journal of the American Viola Society (JAVS), 39 (Summer). pp. 11-19. ISSN 0898-5987

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The name of Rudolf Borisovich Barshai (1924-2010)—a violist, arranger, and conductor—is recognised around the globe. One of the legendary musicians of the second half of the twentieth century, his tireless and far-reaching commitment and enduring dedication to music are striking even today. He actively collaborated with Dmitry Shostakovich, Serge Prokofiev, Sir Yehudi Menuhin, David Oistrakh, Leonid Kogan, Isaac Stern, Mstislav Rostropovich, Steven Isserlis CBE, Emil Gilels, Sviatoslav Richter, Peter Donohoe CBE, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Julia Varady, Dame Janet Baker, Sir Thomas Allen—and many more. The recipient of international awards, including the Gramophone Award and Cannes Classical Music Award, Barshai’s numerous recordings starting from the early 1950s on the Melodiya, EMI, Brilliant Classics, Laurel Records, BIS, CBC Records, Olympia, ICA, Decca and Deutsche Grammophon labels won critical acclaim. However, it was the love for the viola that became the impulse and drive of the maestro in many of his capacities towards the heights of the professional world of classical music. Barshai’s path to musical prominence was rocky to say the least. This research article based on archival materials brings to light previously unknown details of Barshai's upbringing and maturity as well as the analysis of some of his viola arrangements.

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