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Nathan Milstein

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Nathan Milstein (Odessa December 31, 1903December 21, 1992, London) was a Russian-Jewish born violinist who took United States citizenship in 1942 after spending much of his life there.

As a child, he was forced by his mother to take violin lessons to keep him out of mischief. When he was 11, Leopold Auer invited him to become one of his students at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. He was the last of Auer's students to actively perform.

When Auer went to Norway in 1917, Milstein went back to Odessa. In 1921, he went to Kiev and met Horowitz, and they performed together and struck up a fast friendship. In 1925, they went on a concert tour of Western Europe together.

Milstein made his American debut in 1929 with Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. He eventually settled in New York, although he repeatedly toured throughout Europe.

He is considered one of the 20th century's leading violinists and was especially well known for his interpretations of Bach sonatas and Romantic works.

Milstein was also a composer, arranging many works for violin and writing his own cadenzas for many concertos.

He received a Grammy Award in 1975 and was awarded the Legion of Honour by France in 1968.

He died in London ten days before his 89th birthday.

His playing is often compared with his contemporary Jascha Heifetz. While both of them came from imperal Russia and studied with Professor Leopold Auer, their art are actually quite different. Milstein was renown for his interpretation of the more orthodoxical Italian, German and Viennese classical works by Bach, Tartini, Mendelssohn, Dvorak and Goldmark, while Heifetz exceled at the late Romantics and Russian warhorses of Bruch, Brahms, Sibelius, Tchaikowsky, and Prokoviev. While they shared enthusiasm in many short pieces such as The Flight of the Bumble-bee by Rimsky-Kosakov and La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin by Debussy, their 'signature' pieces remained highly personal: Milstein did not recorded the Hora Staccato by Dinicu, nor Heifetz played any of the original caprices by Paganini. Their playing are, however, quite similar, with effortless execution and fast vibrato. Milstein tends to be purer in intonation while Heifetz is more velvet.

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