Violinist Igor Oistrakh has Died, Aged 90

The son of virtuoso David Oistrakh, the international soloist and pedagogue is being mourned around the globe

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(Photo credit: International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition Archive)

 

Legendary Soviet-born violinist, violist and conductor Igor Oistrakh was born in 1931 in Odessa, Ukraine.

After being introduced to the violin by his father, David Oistrakh, he continued studying at the Central Music School in Moscow, and then at the Moscow Conservatory.

While a student at the conservatory, Oistrakh won the 1949 Budapest International Violin Competition and the 1952 Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poland.

"We were classmates and close friends since the late 1940s," acclaimed Russian violinist Victor Pikayzen told The Violin Channel.

"Igor Davidovich was always a tremendous virtuoso, even by the standards of our very talented class, and he most certainly had a distinct musical persona very much his own — even so different to his great father," the 88-year-old Paganini, Queen Elisabeth, Tchaikovsky, and Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud International Violin Competition winner said.

"A brilliant and charming man, this is an irreplaceable loss for the Russian and the world violin school and I will always cherished my memories of working with such an impeccable artistic partner."

 

Igor at the 2nd International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition (Photo credit: International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition Archive)
(Photo credit: International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition Archive)

 

In 1958, he joined the faculty of the Moscow Conservatory, at first assisting his father, and eventually becoming a lecturer.

Oistrakh also served a distinguished teaching position on faculty at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. His additional accolades include being President of the Russian sector of the European String Teachers Association, a Fellow of London's Royal College of Music, and an honorary member of the Beethoven Society and the Jascha Heifetz Society.

Along with an impressive international solo career, he performed with his father in joint concerts. The pair released a recording of Bach's double concerto in 1959.

 

DAVID & IGOR OISTRAKH | BACH DOUBLE VIOLIN CONCERTO IN D MINOR | MOSCOW CHAMBER ORCHESTRA | 1974

 

Oistrakh also performed with his wife, pianist Natalya Zertsalova, with whom he recorded the complete Mozart and Beethoven violin and piano sonatas.

 

(Photo credit: International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition Archive)

 

Many musicians around the globe are paying tribute to the violinist. Igor Pikayzen said he was "one of the last great violinists of the 20th century. Eternal memory..."

Violinist Maxim Vengerov told The Violin Channel that it "is hard to imagine what kind of life Igor Oistrach had, having had a father who was without a doubt one of the greatest musicians in the world. For Igor, it was surely a blessing, but with time, might have been a curse to be "King David's" son."

Vengerov explains that Oistrakh had "to forge his own musical identity, find his own voice, and not be afraid to live forever under the shade of his dad."

"I was lucky to meet Igor on a few occasions, as he had been a teacher of my second violin professor, Zachar Bron," Vengerov continued. "Always incredibly kind towards us kids, he was like our musical grandfather. I heard quite a few of his outstanding performances."

"He was an impressive, bold virtuoso, with great musical authority: a fine and honest guardian of the Soviet school of violin playing. We are all saddened to lose such an exceptional musical soul. He will be sorely missed by his audiences, students, and all those who knew him as a human being," Vengerov concluded.

Igor is survived by his son, violist Valery Oistrakh — who followed in his father's footsteps, also becoming a Professor at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels.

Our condolences to Mr. Oistrakh's family, friends, students, and colleagues.