Rudolf Barshai

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Rudolf Barshai
Rudolf Barshai.jpg
Rudolf Barshai in 1967
Background information
Native name
Рудольф Борисович Баршай
Born(1924-09-28)September 28, 1924
Stanitsa Labinskaya, Krasnodar Krai, Soviet Union
DiedNovember 2, 2010(2010-11-02) (aged 86)
Basel, Switzerland
Genres classical music
Occupation(s) violist, conductor, arranger
Instruments viola
Labels EMI, Decca, Melodiya, others
Rudolf Barshai and David Oistrakh performing Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in Moscow Conservatory, c.1964 Barshai Oistrakh.jpg
Rudolf Barshai and David Oistrakh performing Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in Moscow Conservatory, c.1964

Rudolf Borisovich Barshai (Russian : Рудольф Борисович Баршай, September 28, 1924 November 2, 2010) [1] [2] [3] was a Soviet and Russian conductor and violist.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Conducting directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures

Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or choral concert. It has been defined as "the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture." The primary duties of the conductor are to interpret the score in a way which reflects the specific indications in that score, set the tempo, ensure correct entries by ensemble members, and "shape" the phrasing where appropriate. Conductors communicate with their musicians primarily through hand gestures, usually with the aid of a baton, and may use other gestures or signals such as eye contact. A conductor usually supplements their direction with verbal instructions to their musicians in rehearsal.



Barshai was born on September 28, 1924, in Stanitsa Labinskaya, Krasnodar Krai, in modern-day Russia. He studied at the Moscow Conservatory under Lev Tseitlin and Vadim Borisovsky. He performed as a soloist with Sviatoslav Richter and David Oistrakh and as a member of a trio with Mstislav Rostropovich and Leonid Kogan. During his career Barshai won numerous Soviet and international competitions and was the founding violist of the Borodin Quartet in 1945, [4] where he remained a member until 1953. He later studied conducting under Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatory.


Stanitsa is a village inside a Cossack host (viysko). Stanitsas were the primary unit of Cossack hosts.

Labinsk Town in Krasnodar Krai, Russia

Labinsk is a town in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, located on the Bolshaya Laba River 145 kilometers (90 mi) southeast of Krasnodar and 50 kilometers (31 mi) southwest of Armavir. Population: 62,864 (2010 Census); 61,446 (2002 Census); 57,958 (1989 Census); 53,000 (1972).

Krasnodar Krai First-level administrative division of Russia

Krasnodar Krai is a federal subject of Russia, located in the North Caucasus region in Southern Russia and administratively a part of the Southern Federal District. Its administrative center is the city of Krasnodar. The third most-populous federal subject, the krai had a population of 5,226,647 as of the 2010 Census.

In 1955, Barshai founded the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, which he led and conducted until he emigrated to the West in 1977. He was the artistic director of the Israel Chamber Orchestra from 1978 to 1981. From 1981 until 1982, Barshai was principal conductor of Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestre National de France (National Orchestra of France) from 1985 to 1986. He was also the principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra from 1982 to 1988 as well as the permanent Guest Conductor in many Orchestras of Europe, Canada, USA, Taiwan, and Japan. Barshai resided in Switzerland until his death in 2010.

Moscow Chamber Orchestra

The Moscow Chamber Orchestra (MCO) is a chamber orchestra run under the auspices of the Moscow Philharmonia, a state-run enterprise, formerly under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture and now, Ministry of Culture of Russian Federation.

Israel Chamber Orchestra

Israel Chamber Orchestra is an Israeli orchestra based in Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Primary funding comes from the Israel Ministry of Education and the Tel Aviv Jaffa Municipality.

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) is a Canadian orchestra based in Vancouver, British Columbia. The VSO performs at the Orpheum, which has been the orchestra's permanent home since 1977. With an annual operating budget of $16 million, it is the third largest symphony orchestra in Canada and the largest performing arts organization in Western Canada. It performs 140 concerts per season. The VSO broadcasts annually on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The orchestra is affiliated with the VSO School of Music, which was established in September 2011. Chamber music concerts by VSO musicians take place at Pyatt Hall on the VSO School of Music campus.

Barshai's first wife was Nina Barshai (1947-1953), who became second violinist of the Borodin Quartet. They had a son, Lev Barshai (1946-2014). In 1954, Barshai married Anna Martinson (1954-1963), a Russian painter and costume designer and daughter of the Soviet comic Sergey Martinson. Together they had a son, Walter Barshai, born in 1955. The couple divorced in 1963 and, in 1968, Barshai married Japanese translator Teruko Soda (1968-1974). They had a son, Takeshi, who was born on January 10, 1967. In 1980, Barshai married harpsichordist and organist Elena Raskova. They lived in Switzerland near Basel.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Sergey Martinson Soviet actor

Sergey Alexandrovich Martinson was a Russian eccentric comic actor, the master of pantomime, buffoonery and grotesque. He became People's Artist of the RSFSR in 1964.

Walter Barshai is a Russian author, scientist and humanitarian, and the founder of the Tairus Research and Production facility within the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk, Russia.

A biographical film about Barshai, The Note, was made in 2010 by Oleg Dorman. In 2013, the story was featured in the book The Note. In 2015, the English label ICA CLASSICS released a memorial project, the 20-CD A Tribute to Rudolf Barshai. [5]


Barshai achieved fame as a musical interpreter and arranger of Shostakovich's and Prokofiev's music. He is particularly noted for his arrangements of Shostakovich's string quartets, especially String Quartet No. 8, for chamber orchestra. [6] In 2000, Barshai produced a performing version of Mahler's Tenth Symphony, which was left unfinished at the composer's death. Also, he recorded many Shostakovich's works, among which was the widely praised world premiere recording of the composer's Fourteenth Symphony. Many of his recordings earned critical acclaim and won international awards,[ citation needed ] including:

Dmitri Shostakovich Soviet composer and pianist

Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich was a Russian composer and pianist. He is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century.

Sergei Prokofiev Ukrainian & Russian Soviet pianist and composer

Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was a Russian Soviet composer, pianist and conductor. As the creator of acknowledged masterpieces across numerous music genres, he is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. His works include such widely heard pieces as the March from The Love for Three Oranges, the suite Lieutenant Kijé, the ballet Romeo and Juliet—from which "Dance of the Knights" is taken—and Peter and the Wolf. Of the established forms and genres in which he worked, he created – excluding juvenilia – seven completed operas, seven symphonies, eight ballets, five piano concertos, two violin concertos, a cello concerto, a symphony-concerto for cello and orchestra, and nine completed piano sonatas.

Dmitri Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110, was written in three days.





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  1. Obituary, The Globe and Mail
  2. Obituary, The Daily Telegraph, 5 Nov 2010.
  3. Fox, Margalit (2010-11-10). "Rudolf Barshai, Orchestral Conductor, Dies at 86". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2018-04-14.
  4. David Nice (19 December 2008). "Obituary: Valentin Berlinsky". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
  5. "Дискография | Памяти Рудольфа Баршая". (in Russian). Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  6. Tim Ashley (22 March 2003). "Philharmonia/Ashkenazy (Royal Festival Hall, London)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
Preceded by
Luciano Berio
Artistic Director, Israel Chamber Orchestra
Succeeded by
Uri Segal
Preceded by
Uri Segal
Principal Conductor, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Andrew Litton