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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » M » Milstein, Nathan



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Nathan Milstein (12/31/1904 - 12/21/1992)

Milstein, like Elman, Zimbalist, Seidel and Heifetz, was one of the great Russian-Jewish players of the Böhm-Joachim-Auer line. His recollection of studying with Auer highlights once again the master’s insistence upon individuality which Milstein took to heart: ‘If you asked him […] about the playing of a certain passage, he would say, “Go away and think it out for yourself”’. Apart from this he did not accredit much of his success to his teachers, but rather enjoyed the healthy competition of sharing a class with rising stars such as Heifetz, Hansen and Seidel. When the Russian Revolution forced Auer to emigrate Milstein was already well equipped for international prominence.

At this time he was engaged by the Ministry of Education to give concerts around Odessa. A few years later he met Vladimir Horowitz and began giving concerts with him in Kiev, Moscow and other cities. Anatoly Lunacharsky, Commissar of Fine Arts and Education, reviewed them under the heading ‘Children of the Soviet Revolution’; this kind of publicity led to many more concerts and a handsome income, which the duo gave to beggars as they had ‘nothing to spend it on’. Because of their potential as ambassadors for Soviet cultural education Milstein and Horowitz were allowed to leave Russia for a European tour. Szigeti advised a demurring Milstein that Europe was agog for such artists as himself and, finding this to be true despite the already-established popularity of his older compatriots, Milstein never returned to Russia.

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