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Milton Katims (b1909)

Starting out on the violin, like many other violists, Katims moved to the larger instrument in order to become fluent in the alto clef and furnish his skills for conducting. Violist and conductor Léon Barzin, who taught him conducting, encouraged him by saying: ‘There are 200 other violinists just as good in New York…if you turn to the viola, you can become one of far fewer competent viola players.’ Katims succeeded in carving out a career on the viola, playing in quartets and for WOR Radio, New York; having heard his broadcasts, Arturo Toscanini invited Katims to join his NBC Symphony Orchestra without audition. He also recorded quintet material as second violist with the Budapest Quartet, and founded the New York Quartet with Mieczysław Horszowski. This ensemble had works written for it by Copland and Martinů and its success is marked by a number of recordings.

From around 1954 onwards Katims was known principally as a conductor, although he occasionally made solo appearances with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, including a filmed performance of Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante with violinist Henryk Szeryng.




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