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Efrem Zimbalist Biography

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Efrem Zimbalist (9/21 April 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, Russia to a Jewish family and his father was a conductor. By the age of nine, Efrem Zimbalist was first violin in his father’s orchestra. At age 12 he entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory and studied under Leopold Auer. After graduation he debuted in Berlin (playing the Brahms concerto) and London in 1907 and in the U.S. in 1911, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He then settled in the U.S. 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. Alma Gluck died in 1935.

In 1928, Zimbalist began teaching at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. In 1943, a widower for 8 years, he married the school’s founder, Mary Louise Curtis Bok. He was director of the school from 1941 to 1968. His pupils included Oscar Shumsky and Felix Slatkin.

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

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

He died in 1985 at the age of 95 from natural causes.

His and Alma's son, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., and their granddaughter, Stephanie Zimbalist, both became popular actors.
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