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Nathan Milstein

Nathan Mironovich Milstein was born on the 31st of December 1903 in Odessa as son of the merchant Miron Milstein. Out of his two sisters and four brothers, Milstein mentioned his sister Sara, who played the piano.
He got his first musical impressions through his mother Marija, who took Nathan to a concert of Jascha Heifetz, in 1911 already a famous violinist and "Wunderkind".

Important events and quotes

"Mother organized violin lessons for me in order to prevent me from thrashing the children of our neighbors"

After first lessions with a student, Milstein was accepted to the classes of Pyotr Stoljarsky at the age of 7 years. Later Milstein remembered, that he did not like playing the violin, although during these years great masters such as Jan Kubelik or Eugene Ysaye gave regular concerts in Odessa.
The year 1915 markes a change: He became much interested in playing the violin and on the invitation of Stoljarsky Milstein played the Concert of Alexander Glazunov on the occasion of the 50th birthday of the composer. A. Glazunov himself directed the orchestra.

Violin playing did not interest him much, he stated, although he must have had remarkable skills considering that he was selected to play the concerto of Glazunov in public.

1916: Stoljarsky presented Milstein to Leopold Auer, the most famous teacher and pedagogue of his time. Milstein played the partita in d minor; Milstein was accepted and his mother moved with him to St. Petersburg.
At the beginning of the lessons with L. Auer, Milstein played the concert in F sharp major by H.W. Ernst, a very difficult concert. (Comment by Auer to his class: "How do you like the technique from the black sea?"). The masterclasses of Auer with colleagues like Heifetz, Elman and Poljakin were fundamental impressions to Nathan especially with regard to the musicality ("Elaborate the music by using your brain, not with your fingers", said Auer repeatedly.) .
From this period of time stems the interest of Milstein in Bach's soloworks for unaccompanied violin. These works had found only little attention during these years.
(Joseph Joachim was the father of the rediscovery of these works.)
Milstein started to give concerts in the area of Odessa.
Master classes with Leopold Auer together with Heifetz and Poljakin
1921: Milstein meets Vladimir ("Volodja") Horowitz, they became friends and started to give concerts throughout the Ukraine and Russia. Highlights from this time were their concerts in St Petersburg 1923 and in Moscow.

Milstein meets Horowitz

regular concerts in Russia and Ukraine

December 25th, 1925: Milstein travels to Berlin; his first concerts as a soloist and with Horowitz were not as successful as expected. However, neither of both should return to Russia again. From Berlin Milstein and Horowitz moved to Paris, where an intense schedule of concerts brought first successes. Milstein extended his career from Paris to South-America,

Emigration to the Western world, first Berlin: concerts with Horowitz, then Paris,

1926:Milstein travels to Belgium in order to have lessions from Eugene Ysaye. Ysaye asked, unwillingly to listen to the young man, what he was prepared to play. Milstein proposed any of the Paganini Capriccios or any out if the Bach solo works (!). After Milstein had played Bach and Paganini, Ysaye noted, that the young virtuoso didn't need any further tuition. Nevertheless the stay of Milstein lasted several weeks, and Milstein noted in his biography, that on one hand he did not learn much from Ysaye, but between the lines one can note that he had considerable benefit from this period of time with Ysaye.

Start of the international career

Tuition by Eugene Ysaye

During the years 1925 and 1929 Milstein built-up his career in many countries, the most important event being his debut in America.
He arrived in America in October 1929.
At that time, America was dominated by Jascha Heifetz and Fritz Kreisler, nevertheless, Nathan Milstein succeeded to enter the world-elite of violinists.
Milstein became American citizen in 1943.
The America-Debut took place on the 29th. of November 1929 in Philadelphia. Milstein played the Concerto by Glazunov, a work, which should accompany him further on during his long lasting career
His worldwide success was recognized especially during the years after the second World-War.

Debut in America,

worldwide concert activity,

Milstein became American citizen

Worldwide concert activities took Milstein, who lived in London after World-War two, to Vienna and Salzburg. His concerts with a pure Bach program or his recitals were a fixed event at the annual Vienna Festival as well as at the Salzburg Festival during the years 1955 to 1985.
Regular concerts and recitals in Vienna and Salzburg
The concert career of Nathan Milstein came to an end, when he broke his arm after falling down in the year 1989. He worked further on several arrangements for violin.
Nathan Milstein died on the 21st of. December 1992 in London at the age of 89.
Milstein died in 1992