Text Box: violinist autographs
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FINE CONDITION

BERL SENOFSKY – VIOLINIST

The violinist autographs an 8” x 10” glossy press photograph by John G. Ross, February 24, 1959.

Senofsky (1926-2002) was an aberration for a classical music in that he was the size of a football player. It has been claimed he played the game in high school, though I’m not sure where, as he was at Juilliard during those years. He was the son of Russian immigrant violinists who started his violin education at the age of three.  By six, he had surpassed their abilities and was taken to Louis Persinger in New York who gladly took him on for free.  By twelve he was given admission and a scholarship to Juilliard to continue his lessons with Ivan Galamian.  The violinist used to tell a story about how he was working on Rachmaninov’s “Vocalise” with Galamian and there was a knock on the door and there stood the composer wondering who was playing his piece.  Rachmaninov then sat at the piano and accompanied Senofsky and played the work through 11 times, each in a different way.  At the end he sat at the piano with tears in his eyes and told Galamian it was his favorite piece!   He was with Galamian from 1938 to 1944 where he spent a little over a year in the Service at the end of the War.  He returned to Galamian early in 1946 and won the Naumberg Prize in Chicago that year followed by his professional recital debut under their auspices at Town Hall in New York City the same year.  He made his Carnegie Hall recital debut in 1948 and his New York Philharmonic debut in 1950 at Lewisohn Stadium under the direction of Alexander Smallens. He continued with Galamian until 1951, whilst beginning his professional career which included concerts and recitals throughout the country.  After his 1950 debut with the Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell hired him as Assistant Concertmaster from 1951 to 1955.  In 1955 he entered the third Queen Elisabeth violin competition in Amsterdam and won, the first American to do so.  The two previous winners were David Oistrakh and Leonid Kogan. Until 2019 he was the only American winner.  Senofsky continued to concertize, two early highlights were a pair of concerts with Pierre Monteux and the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in 1958.  He was personally selected by Sir William Walton to play his violin concerto under his direction with the New York Philharmonic in 1962.  Throughout his life he played concerts and recitals.  In the United States he was particularly close with The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony.  During the 1960’s and 1970’s he played at least a concert a year.  He was also in demand in Europe, the Far East and South America.

In 1965 he was invited to join the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory where he taught until 1996, establishing the American Artists International Association which helped prepare young American virtuosos for overseas competitions.  As a winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition, he was also a regular on the panel of international competitions.  In 1983 he was invited by the Director of the Shanghai Conservatory to help them begin a violin program and he spent three months there developing the program. As well as providing master classes and performing recitals and as a concert artist.

As a recording artist, Senofsky made several studio records for RCA and Philips.  However, he despised “the game” and stated he took the “moral high ground” as he did not want to give to get.  So his best work can be heard in live recordings.  Cembalo D’Amour has released a three volumes “Berl Senofsky, Art of the Violin” which is outstanding and in excellent sound.  Many of the tracks can be heard on YouTube.