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David Oistrakh (1908 - 1974)

David Oistrakh was one of the many illustrious violinists from Odessa who were pupils of the remarkable teacher Piotr Stolyarsky. Unusually for his time Oistrakh did not go to Leopold Auer, remaining in Odessa under Stolyarsky’s instruction until graduating in 1926. His name became known in the West in 1935 when he was runner-up to Ginette Neveu in the Wieniawski Competition; he was also honoured with several important prizes in the USSR.

Oistrakh’s career, like those of many others in the Stalin era, was circumscribed by Stalin’s direct influence upon the arts. World War II demanded astonishing bravery from him, playing for troops and indeed continuing a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto to its end during the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942. Towards the end of the war he formed a friendship with Shostakovich who had experienced the siege of Leningrad at first hand.

Most of Oistrakh’s substantial discography dates from after the war and some of the recordings in this selection were made in the West, Oistrakh only being allowed to leave the USSR in 1946. It is almost impossible to do justice to him in such a tight space, but a number of recordings representing particularly high pinnacles of his career serve as a starting point.




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