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Mikhail Saulovich Elman

Also Known As: "Mischa", "Moishe"
Birthdate: (76)
Birthplace: Tal'ne, Cherkas'ka oblast, Ukraine
Death: April 5, 1967 (76)
New York, NY, USA
Place of Burial: Hastings on Hudson, New York, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Saul Elman and Jette Elman
Husband of Helen Frances Elman
Father of Josef Elman and <private> Mack (Elman)

Occupation: Violinist virtuoso
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Mischa Elman

Mischa Elman. Mikhail [originally Moses or Moishe] (Mischa) Saulovich Elman (Russian: Михаи́л (Ми́ша) Сау́лович Э́льман; January 20, 1891, Talnoye, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire – April 5, 1967, New York, United States) was a Jewish, Ukrainian-born, violinist, famed for his passionate style and beautiful tone.

Life and Career

Elman was born in the small town of Talnoye near Kiev, modern-day Talne, Ukraine. His grandfather was a klezmer, a Jewish folk musician, who also played the violin. It became apparent when Mischa was very young that he had perfect pitch, but his father hesitated about a career as a musician, since musicians were not very high on the social scale. He finally gave in, and gave Mischa a miniature violin, on which he soon learned several tunes by himself. Soon thereafter, he was taken to Odessa, where he studied at the Imperial Academy of Music. Pablo de Sarasate gave him a recommendation, stating that he could become one of the great talents of Europe. He auditioned for Leopold Auer at the age of 11, playing the Wieniawski Concerto No. 2 and 24th Caprice by Paganini. Auer was so impressed that he had Elman admitted to the St. Petersburg Conservatory.

In 1903, Elman began to play concerts in the homes of wealthy patrons of the arts, and he made his Berlin debut in 1904, creating a great sensation. His London debut in 1905 included the British premiere of Alexander Glazunov's Violin Concerto in A minor. He played in Carnegie Hall in 1908, making a great impression on his American audience. He toured Australia in 1914.

The Elman family moved to the United States, and Mischa became a citizen in 1923. In 1917, he was elected to honorary membership in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity. He sometimes performed in as many as 107 concerts in a 29-week season. In 1943, he gave the premiere of Bohuslav Martinů's second concerto, which was written for him. Sales of his records exceeded two million.

A frequent accompanist in chamber works during Elman's early American career was Emmanuel Bay, who was born on exactly the same day as he was, January 20, 1891. But Elman also performed and recorded with Josef Bonime, Carroll Hollister and others, and from 1950, his steady accompanist and recital partner was Joseph Seiger. He also briefly performed and made recordings with the Mischa Elman String Quartet.

Elman died on April 5, 1967 in New York City, a few hours after completing a rehearsal with Seiger. He is buried in the Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.

Elman's recorded legacy spanned just over 60 years: his first 78 rpm discs were made for Pathe, in Paris, in 1906; his final LP sessions were for Vanguard, in New York, shortly before his death. The greatest part of his discography was recorded for HMV and Victor, with whom he had an exclusive relationship through 1950. Thereafter, he recorded for Decca/London and later the Vanguard recording group. Unlike his contemporary, Jascha Heifetz, Elman's work has never been re-issued in a systematic manner.

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Mischa Elman's Timeline

January 20, 1891
Tal'ne, Cherkas'ka oblast, Ukraine
April 13, 1929
Age 38
New York, United States
April 5, 1967
Age 76
New York, NY, USA
Hastings on Hudson, New York, USA