Obituary: Conductor Rudolf Barshai, 86

Posted on: November 5, 2010

In Friday’s (11/5) Vancouver Sun, David Gordon Duke writes, “Violinist, violist and conductor Rudolf Barshai died in Switzerland on Tuesday at the age of 86. As conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in the mid-1980s, Barshai brought a distinctly cosmopolitan accent to the orchestra, a living connection to the great tradition of Russian music-making. … Born in Russia in 1924, Barshai studied at the Moscow Conservatory. He knew and worked with the luminary greats of Soviet-era music, performers such as violinist David Oistrahk and pianist Sviatoslav Richter. He played in a legendary trio with Leonid Kogan and Mstislav Rostropovich, and was a founding member of the Borodin String Quartet. … Barshai’s tenure with the Vancouver Symphony proved short; he was replaced as conductor by the 1988-89 season. But there is universal agreement that he brought particular authority, as well as stylistic authenticity, to the VSO’s performance of Russian repertoire. Lee Duckles, VSO principal cellist, remembers Barshai’s time with the orchestra, in particular his readings of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich. ‘I can’t play [Beethoven’s] Eroica without recalling all the intricacies he brought to life for us.’ ”

Posted November 5, 2010