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Efrem Zimbalist

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Efrem Zimbalist, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1933

Efrem Zimbalist (April 9, 1889-February 22, 1985) was one of the world's most prominent concert violinists, as well as a composer, teacher and conductor.

He was born in Rostov on Don to a Jewish family. His father was a conductor. By age nine he was first violin in his fatherís orchestra. At age 12 he entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory and studied under Leopold Auer. After graduation he debuted in Berlin (playing Johannes Brahms' concerto) and London in 1907 and in the US in 1911, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He then settled in the US. He did much to popularize the performance of early music.

He married the famous American soprano Alma Gluck and they toured together for a time. Their son, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., and granddaughter, Stephanie Zimbalist, became popular actors. Gluck died in 1935.

In 1928, Zimbalist began teaching at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. In 1938 he married the schoolís founder, Mary Louise Curtis Bok. He was director of the school from 1941 to 1968. His pupils included Oscar Shumsky.

He retired as a violinist in 1949, but returned in 1952 to give the first performance of the concerto by Gian Carlo Menotti, which is dedicated to him. He retired again in 1955. He served as a juror of the Tchaikovsky piano competition in 1962 and 1966.

His own compositions include a violin concerto, the American Rhapsody and a tone poem called Daphnis and Chloe.

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