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Violinist James Buswell has Died, Age 74

At the age of seven, he was the youngest ever soloist with the New York Philharmonic and went on to hone his skills as a violinist, conductor, and educator


Born in Indiana, James Buswell began playing the violin at age 5. His primary violin teachers included Mary Canberg, Paul Stassevich, and Ivan Galamian, with whom he studied at The Juilliard School. He also graduated in 1970 from Harvard University with a degree in Renaissance Art.

Buswell started playing the 1720 "Leveque" Stradivari violin in his 20s, which he would play for the rest of his career.

As a soloist, he collaborated with conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, George Szell, Seiji Ozawa, Zubin Mehta, Andre Previn, Pierre Boulez, and Michael Tilson Thomas.

He performed at one of the opening gala concerts of New York's Alice Tully Hall with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center — in which he became a regular artist member for more than a decade.

As a recording artist, he was nominated for a Grammy in 2002 for his recording of the Barber Violin Concerto with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He gave world premiere performances and recorded works by contemporary composers including Ned Rorem, Yehudi Wyner, Gunther Schuller, John Harbison, Gian Carlo Menotti, and Ellen Taafe Zwilich.

Buswell also served as a dedicated pedagogue. He was on the faculties of the University of Arizona, Indiana University, and New England Conservatory. He taught in Boston for more than 25 years, and while in Bloomington, he founded and conducted the Chamber Orchestra of the School of Music.

In 2018, both Mr. Buswell and his wife, cellist Carol Ou, joined the faculty of New York University's Steinhardt School.

He also taught at the Cremona International Music Academy and Festival, and during the pandemic, gave lessons and masterclasses on the virtual learning center, Virtuosity.online.

"Jamie was a man of tremendous intellect and eloquence," pianist, chamber musician, and frequent collaborator of Buswell, Andrew Goodridge, told The Violin Channel. "He was a master of his craft, a dynamic performer, and a keenly perceptive teacher, as well as a true gentleman. He was an inspiration to me, and I was honored to know him and work with him."

"My time with James Buswell was very inspiring," said Dr Robin Wilson of the Australian National Academy of Music, who studied with Buswell at the New England Conservatory in the 1990s. "An exceptional violinist in his own right, his demonstrations filled me with awe and I loved hearing anecdotes of his time as a student with Galamian and Gingold. Extremely erudite and encouraging, he spoke often of the connections and influences between all of the Arts. I still quote him to my own students when I say 'every good string player needs to be obsessed with opera at one point in their lives!' My sincere condolences to his family."

"I’m very sorry to hear that James Buswell has passed away," Itzhak Perlman told The Violin Channel. "He and I studied with Mr. Galamian some 60 years ago and spent summers together at Meadowmount summer program."

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

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