violinist, conductor, composer
April 25, 1989 - February 22, 1985
Efrem Zimbalist was an internationally known American violin virtuoso, as well as concert performer, composer, conductor, teacher and director of the Curtis Institute of Music.
Efrem Zimbalist – The Violin Prodigy
Efrem Zimbalist was born in the southwestern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don (according to one in 1889 on the other - in 1990), to a Jewish family Aron Zimbalist, a conductor at Rostov opera, and his wife Maria.
The inconsistencies with the exact date of birth are due to the common practice of the Jewish population of Russian Empire of the time to cover up the real age of their male children to avoid their being conscripted into the Tsarist army.
The boy turned out to be a veritable musical wunderkind, a natural-born violin player, who became the first violin in his father's orchestra by the age of just nine! At twelve he was already enrolled into the Saint Petersburg Conservatory and studied under the well-known musician Leopold Auer. During the studies, he won the Rubinstein Prize, and graduated with a gold medal in 1907, aged only seventeen. And by 21 he was widely considered one of the world's greatest violin players.
He started his professional career in Berlin and London in the same year he graduated, and in 1911 went to the United States, invited by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In 1912, he was invited by another great orchestra of the time - London Symphony Orchestra.
Soon afterwards, Efrem moved to America, where he did much to popularize classical music. In 1917, for his achievements in this field, he was elected as an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national fraternity for men in music.
In 1928 he started his academic career, teaching at the Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia), raising such talents as Aaron Rosand, Oscar Shumsky, Joseph Silverstein, Jascha Brodsky, John Dalley, Michael Tree, Felix Slatkin, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Harold Wippler and Hidetaro Suzuki.
At the same time, he continued to create compositions, including such pieces as the American Rhapsody, Daphnis and Chloe, a Fantasy on themes from The Golden Cockerel by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsako, Sarasateana. Also, he created an opera, Landara, which premiered in Philadelphia in 1956.
Zimbalist was married to the famous American soprano singer Alma Gluck and the couple toured together for a time. After the death of Alma in 1938, he married Louise Curtis Bok, who was14 years his senior.
The Efrem and Alma's son Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. and their granddaughter Stephanie Zimbalist both became popular actors. Efrem Jr. (died in 2014) was a Golden Globe winner and Stephanie is a Golden Globe nominee, well known for her role in the hit Remington Steele TV series.
He died in 1985, at the respectable age of 94, having made an astonishing 72-year career in music!
Efrem Zimbalist: A Life. – by Roy Malan. Pompton Plains, NJ: Amadeus Press, 2004
Slonimsky, Nicolas (1978). "Zimbalist, Efrem". Baker's Biographical dictionary of musicians. (6th ed.).