Rudolf Barshai

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Rudolf Barshai
A black-and white image of a man wearing a suit jacket and shirt, with his arms raised
Rudolf Barshai in 1967
Background information
Native name Рудольф Борисович Баршай
Born (1924-09-28)September 28, 1924
Stanitsa Labinskaya, Krasnodar Krai, Soviet Union
Died November 2, 2010(2010-11-02) (aged 86)
Basel, Switzerland
Genres classical music
Occupation(s) violist, conductor, arranger
Instruments viola
Labels EMI, Decca, Melodiya, others
Rudolf Barshai and David Oistrakh performing Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in Moscow Conservatory, c.1964
Rudolf Barshai and Sviatoslav Richter during a rehearsal for Moscow Chamber Orchestra's 1000's performance, c.1967

Rudolf Borisovich Barshai (Russian: Рудольф Борисович Баршай, September 28, 1924 – November 2, 2010)[1][2] was a Soviet and Russian conductor and violist.


Barshai was born in Stanitsa Labinskaya, Krasnodar Krai, in modern-day Russia and studied at the Moscow Conservatory under Lev Tseitlin and Vadim Borisovsky. He also performed as a soloist with Sviatoslav Richter and David Oistrakh and as a member of a trio with Mstislav Rostropovich and Leonid Kogan. He won numerous Soviet and international competitions and was the founding violist of the Borodin Quartet in 1945,[3] where he remained a member until 1953. Later, he studied conducting under Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatory.

In 1955, Barshai founded the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, which he led and conducted until he emigrated to Israel in 1977. He was the artistic director of the Israel Chamber Orchestra from 1978 to 1981. From 1981 until 1982, Barshai was principal conductor of Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and the Principal Guest Conductor of Orchestre National de France (National Orchestra of France) from 1985 to 1986. He was also the principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra from 1982 to 1988 as well as the permanent Guest Conductor in many Orchestras of Europe, Canada, USA, Taiwan, and Japan. Barshai resided in Switzerland until his death in 2010.

Barhsai's first wife was Nina Barshai (1947-1953) - second violinist of the future Borodin Quartet. They had a son, Lev Barshai (1946-2014). In 1954, Barshai married Anna Martinson (1954-1963), a Russian painter and costume designer and daughter of the Soviet comic Sergey Martinson. Together they had a son, Walter Barshai, born in 1955. The couple divorced in 1963 and, in 1968, Barshai married Japanese translator Teruko Soda (1968-1974). They also have a son, Takeshi, who was born on January 10, 1967. Takeshi is a doctor in Japan. In 1980, Barshai married harpsichordist and organist Elena Raskova. They lived in Switzerland near Basel.

  • A biographical film about the maestro, The Note, was made in 2010 by Oleg Dorman. In 2013, the story was featured in the book "The Note".
  • In 2015, the English label ICA CLASSICS realized a memorial project, the 20 CD "A Tribute to Rudolf Barshai".[4]


Barshai achieved fame as a musical interpreter and arranger of Shostakovich's and Prokofiev's music. He is particularly noted for his arrangements of Shostakovich's string quartets, especially String Quartet No. 8, for chamber orchestra.[5] In 2000, Barshai produced a performing version of Mahler's Tenth Symphony, which was left unfinished at the composer's death, and for which he could count on the expertise of Frans Bouwman, a leading expert on the Tenth Symphony. Also, he recorded many Shostakovich's works, among which was the widely praised world premiere recording of the composer's Fourteenth Symphony. Many of his recordings earned critical acclaim and won international awards, including:

Solo Recordings

Ivan Khandoshkin: Concerto for Viola & Orchestra (in C Major) Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Rudolf Barshai conductor and viola Moderato Canzona: Andante Rondo: "La Chasse" Allegretto

JS Bach, Partita No.2 in D Minor, BWV 1004, Arranged for viola by Rudolf Barshai. Played on Stradivarius viola, recorded in 1960. 1. Allemanda; 2. Corrente; 3. Sarabanda; 4. Giga, 5. Ciaccona

JS Bach, Brandenburg Concerto no.6 for 2 violas. Moscow Chamber Orchestra, live concert recording at the Moscow Conservatory. Rudolf Barshai, conductor and viola. 1. Allegro; 2. Adagio Ma Non Troppo; 3. (Allegro)

Rudolf Barshai, solo viola. Accompanied on piano by Vladimir Shreibman Robert Schuman (1810-1856) Märchenbilder for viola and piano, op.113 1. Nacht schnell (3:18) 2. Lebhaft (4:11) 3. Rasch (2:20) 4. Langsam mit melodischem Ausdruck (5:03)

Sergey Prokofiev (1891-1953) Five pieces from Romeo and Juliet, arranged for viola and piano by R. Barshai 5. The street awakening (1:35) 6. Dance of the Antilles Maids (2:26) 7. Masques (2:26) 8. Peter Laurence (2:41) 9. Mercutio Dies (3:11) Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) 10. Pavane (arr. V. Borisov) (6:03) Claude Debussy (1862-1918) 11. En bateau (arr. V. Borisovssky) (5:33) Paul Hindemith (1895-1963), Sonata for solo viola op.25 n.1 12. Breit (3:45) 13. Sehr Frisch und staff (2:33) 14. Sehr Langsam (2:20) 15. Raschendes – Zeitmass wild – Tonschönheit ist Nebensache (1:26) 16. Langsam Mit veil Ausdruck (4:33) Paul Hindemith 17. Trauermusik (7:40) Moscow Chamber Orchestra, R. Barshai, viola and conductor (Langsam – Ruhig Bewegt Lebhaft – Sehr Langsam)

Total time: 61:10

Handel/Casadesus viola concerto in B minor (arr. R. Barshai) Moscow Chamber Orchestra, R. Barshai, viola and conductor 1. Allegro moderato 2. Andante ma non troppo 3. Allegro molto Glinka, Mikhail Ivanovich (1804-1857), Sonata for Viola and Piano In D minor Rudolf Barshai, viola Tatiana Nikolayeva, piano

1.Allegro moderato 2.Larghetto, ma non troppo

This recording I have on an old record. It was recorded in 1953, so it is in Public domain and can be reproduced according to International law: Bunin, Revol Samoilovich (1924-1976) Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, dedicated to Rudolf Barshai Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Nikolay Anosov, Conductor Rudolf Barshai, Viola 1.Andante – Allegro 2.Adagio espressivo 3.Maestoso-Allegro.


ENSEMBLES 1. Beethoven - String Trio in G, op. 9 No.1, String Trio in C Minor, op.9 No. 3, with Leonid Kogan, M. Rostropovich 1958/1958 Melodiya SUCD 10-00552 2. Glinka - Sonata for Viola and Piano in D minor, with Tatyana Nikolayeva Multisonic 310236 3. Fauré - Piano Quartet No.1 in C, op.15, with Emil Gilels, L. Kogan, M. Rostropovich 1958/1958 4. Shostakovich - String Quartet No.3 in F, op.73, 1954/1955 Russian Revelation RV10016 5. P. Tchaikovsky - String Sextet in D minor, Multisonic 310182

CONDUCTING Albinoni - Concerto for Oboe, Strings & Harpsichord in B flat, Op.7, No.3 Russian Disc RD CD 10 062 J.Baur - Symphony Metamorphose, Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra, 1994 THROFON CTH2270 Beethoven Sym. No. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 Orchestra based on MCO 1969 - 1975/1970 - 1976

 Coriolan, overture 1970/1970
 Consecration of the house, overture to Mel's play 1970/1970
 Ruinen von Athen, overture & Turkish March from incidental music to A.v.Kotzebue’s play 1970
 Könlg Stefan, overture to Kotzebue’s play 1970/1970
 Missa Solemnis in D Major, Russian National Orchestra, 1994, Laserlight CD 14136
 Piano Concerto No.2 J.Lill 1970/1970
 Piano Concerto No.3 S.Richter 1973/UR (unreleased)

Berg - Chamber Concert O.Kagan, S. Richter, All-Union Radio & TV Large Sym.Orchestra 1972/UR J.S.Bach - Brandenburg Con. 1,2,3(Rostropovich,cello,1958),4 (D.Oistrakh,violin,1957),5,6 1973/76

 Suite No.1 in C BWV 1067 1963/1963
 Suite No.2 in B minor BWV 1067 1973/1973
 Suite No.4 in D BWV 1069 1972/1973
 The Art of Fuge edited and arr. Barshai, MCO 1972/1972
 Piano Con. 1,2,3,4,5,7 V.Devetzi, piano, 1968/1968 Royal Classics ROY 700942
 Con. for 2 pianos in C, BWV 1061 Richter, Vedervinkov 1959/196 BMG 74321294612
 Violin Con. No.1 BWV 1041, D.Oistrakh 1959/1959                              
 Violin Con. No.2 L.Kogan (1959/1959), D.Oistrakh (1959/1961), M.Fujikawa (1970/1970)
 Violin Con. in D minor, BWV 1052, Igor Oistrakh 1961/1961
 Air from Overture No. 3, Violin Con. No 1 & 2 w/Kogan MCO Triton DML Classics 42001/2
 Concerto for 2 violins in D minor, BWV 1043, I. & D.Oistrakh 1959/1959 Monitor MCD72009              
 Concerto for Oboe, Violin & Strings in D minor, Nepal, Abramenkov 1962/1962
 Concerto for Harpsichord, Flute, Violin & Strings in A minor BWV 1044 1963/1965

“We're sich Selbst erhöhet”, cantata BWV 47, Pisarenko, Vedernikov, Yurlov Choir 1965/1966 “Gott Soll Allein Mein Herze Haben”, aria from Cantata BWV 68, ”Murre night, Lieber Christ”, aria from Cantata BWV144, ”Erbarme Dich”, aria from “Matthäus Passion” BWV 244, Dolukhanova 1958

 Cello Concerto in C minor 1963/UR

Revol Bunin – Sym. No.5 op.45 MPO 1968/1970

 Concerto for Chamber Orchestra in G minor, op.33 MCO 1962/1962
 Concerto for Strings in D minor op.36 MCO 1968/1969
 Piano Concerto in G minor, op.34, V.Devetzi 1968/1969
 Lead us, the Road, oratorio MCO, 1973/1973

Biber - Sonata a 6 vocal in B flat, T.Dokshitser, trumpet MCO 1968/1970 Boccherini - Sym. in E flat MCO 1960/1960

 La Musica Notturna Delle estrade di Madrid, G324 MCO 1960/1961
 Cello Concerto in D, M. Rostropovich, 1963/UR

Brahms – Symphonies No. 2 & 4, Cologne Radio Sym. Orchestra, 1999, Laurel Record LR-903 Britten - Simple Symphony, op.4, MCO 1962/1963 Bellini - Oboe Concerto in E flat, E. Nepal, MCO 1968/1970 Russian Disc RD CD 10 062 Debussy - Two Dances for Harp & Strings, O. Nardelli 1965/1965 Hindemith - Ein Jäger Aus Kurpfalz, op.45 No. 3 MCO 1964/1965 Hummel - Trumpet Concerto in E flat, T. Dokshitser MCO 1968/1970 BMG/RCA Victor #32045 J. Haydn - Sym. No.45”Farewell”, 94 ”Surprise”, 95, 100 ”Military”, 101 ”Clock”, 102, 104 “London” MCO 1965-1973/1965-1991 Melodiya SUCD 10-00224

 Violin Concerto in C, Hob.VIIa/1, Spivakov 1972/1973
 Piano Concerto in D,Hob/XVII/11,Emil Gilels 1959/1959; Devetzi  Royal Classics ROY700942
 Horn Concerto in D,Hob.VIId/4 Afanasiev 1960/1962

M.Haydn - Symphony in G MCO 1976/1991 Handel - Concerto Grosso op.3 No.4a, op.3 No.5, op.6 No.10, op.6 No.12 1959-1976/1959-1991

 Concerto for Organ & Strings, op.4 No.1, H.Lepnurm, MCO 1961/1961
 Ariana’s Aria, Mellissa’s Aria, Flavio Aria, Admeto’s Aria, Dolukhanova, 1958/1958

K.Karaev - Sym. No.3 MCO 1966/1966 Yu.Levitin - Oboe Concerto in E minor, op.50, Nepalo, MCO 1967/1969 A.Lokshin - Sym. No. 5, 7,10, Songs of Margaret, MCO 1971-1976/1971-UR Laurel Record LR-901 Mahler - Sym.No.5, Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, 1999 Brilliant Classics

  Sym. No. 9, Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, 1993 BIS CD632
  Sym.No.10, Arranged by R. Barshai. Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, 2004 Brilliant Classics

Mozart - Sym. 1,10,18,20,22,24,25,28-41, in D, in B flat, in G MCO 1961-1973/1961-1974

  Piano Con. No.1 K337, Richter, Japan Shinsei Sym. Orchestra,1994 Laurel Record LR902 
  Piano Con. no.5 K175,Richter,Japan Shinsei Sym.Orchestra, 1994, Laurel Record, LR-902
  Piano Con. No. 12 K414, V.Devetzi  MCO 1962/1962
  Piano Con. No. 13 K415, M.Frager MCO 1963/1963
  Piano Con. No.14 K449, MCO, D.Bashkirov (1963/1963), S.Richter 1973/UR
  Piano Con. No. 15 K450, S.Richter MCO MasterTone LM 1302
  Piano Con. No. 16 K451, M.Frager MCO 1963/1963     
  Piano Con. No. 17 K453, Bashkirov (1965/1965), Richter (live 1968/UR) MCO
  Piano Con. No.18 K456, Richter, Japan Shinsei Sym.Orch., 1994, Laurel Record LR902
  Piano Con. No.21 K467, E. Gilels, MCO 1959/1959                                                                  
  Piano Con. No.24 K491, V.Devetzi, MCO 1969/1971
  Piano Con. No.27 K595, Devetzi (1969/1971), Richter (1966) MCO MasterTone LM1302 
  Violin Con. No.3 K216, D. Oistrakh, MCO 1960/1960.w/Kogan – Triton DMCC-42001/2
  Violin Con. No.5 K219,L.Kogan, MCO 1960/1960 Arlecchino ARL18, Triton DMCC-42001/2
  Concerto for Flute, Harp & Orchestra in C, K299, MCO 1965/1965
  Clarinet Concerto in A, K622, Mikhailov, MCO 1971/1971 
  Divertimento No.1 in D K136,No.2 in F K138,No.7 in D K205 MCO 1958-1963/1958-1963
  Serenade No.7 in D “Haffner”, K250, MCO 1973/1974
  Idomeneo,K366,Schauspieldirektor,K486,La Nozze di Figaro,K492,Overtures,1976/1991
  Various Arias, G.Gabora, sno,Leonskaya, piano, Spivakov, violin, MCO 1976/1977

Mussorgsky - Night on bald Mountain, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra 1989 CBC 2-5083 Pergolesi - Stabat Mater, Pisarenko, Arkhipova,Yurlov Choir, MCO, 1966/1966 Prokofiev - Visions Fugitives, op.22, Nos. 1-15, arr. Barshai, MCO 1962/1963

  Piano Con. No. 3 w/Mark Zeltser, Cologne Radio Sym. Orch. Laurel Record LR-904

J. Rääts - Concerto for Strings, op.16 MCO 1963/1963 Rachmaninoff –Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini,w/Zeltser, Cologne R.S.Orch. Laurel Record LR-904 Shubert - Sym. No.5 in B flat, D485, MCO 1964/1964

  5 Menuets with 6 Trios, D89, MCO 1965/1965

Shostakovich - Sym. No. 14, op.136, Miroshnikova, Vladimirov MCO 1970/1970

  Sym. No. 14, op.136, Vishnevskaya, Reshetin MCO (1969/UR - author’s request)
  All 15 Symphonies -  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra - Brilliant Classics #6275
  Sym. No.7  Junge Deutsche Philharmonie & members of MPO 1991 BIS-CD-515
  Sym. No.8 Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra 1985 EMI CDC 7476702
  Sym. No.4 Bundesjugendorchester 1992 Deutsche Harmonia Mundi HM 1068-2
  Chamber Symphonies on Deutsche Gramophone & Sony Classical

Boris Tchaikovsky - Chamber Symphony in G-E MCO 1968/1969

  Piano Concerto, B. Tchaikovsky, piano MCO 1965/1967

P.Tchaikovsky - Sym. No. 6, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, 1989 CBC 2-5083

  Piano Con. No.1,2,3 Peter Donohoe (piano), Nigel Kennedy (violin), 

Steven Isserelis (cello), Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra 1986,1987,1989 EMI CDC 7499392

  Concert Fantasy, Op.56,Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra,1989 EMI CDC7499392

Telemann - Concerto for 3 Oboes, 3 Violins & Strings in B flat 1965/1967 EMI 724356534025 Torelli - Violin Concerto in A minor, Op.8 No.9 Spivakov, solo MCO1972/1973 M. Vainberg - Sym. No.7 Op.81, MCO 1967/1969 OLYMPIA OCD 472

  Sym. No.10 Op.98, MCO 1970/1970 OLYMPIA OCD 472
  Sinfonietta No.2 Op.74, MCO 1962/1962
  Fantasy for Cello & Orchestra, Op.52, MCO 1970/1970
  Flute Concerto Op.75, Korneev, MCO 1968/1969

Vivaldi - Concerto in G minor RV577, MCO 1971/1971

  Four Seasons Op.8, Nos.1-4, Smirnov, solo, MCO 1961/1962  Revalation RV10043
  Con. for 2 Violin & Strings in D minor, RV514 MCO 1970/1971 London 433680-2
  Con. for 4 Violins, Cello & Strings in B minor, RV580, MCO 1958/1958 London 433680-2
  Con. for Cello, Bassoon & Strings in E minor RV409,MCO 1971/1971
  Con. for 2 Oboes & Strings in A minor, Nepalo, Baidak, MCO  Revalation RV 10043 
  Double Concerto for 2 Horns & Strings in F, MCO Revalation RV10043
  Cello Concerto in G, RV 413, Rostropovich, MCO 1963/UR
  Oboe Concerti in D minor, in C, in A minor, Nepalo,MCO 1968,63,68/1970,63,70 

Verdi - Requiem, live in Waldbüne, Berlin, World Symphony Orchestra, Maryland Chorus, Shinyu-Kai Choir, Sveshnikov Choir June 11, 1994; IPPNW-Concerts 2-CD


  1. ^ Obituary, The Globe and Mail
  2. ^ Obituary, The Daily Telegraph, 5 Nov 2010.
  3. ^ David Nice (19 December 2008). "Obituary: Valentin Berlinsky". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  4. ^ Сайт памяти Рудольфа Баршая
  5. ^ Tim Ashley (22 March 2003). "Philharmonia/Ashkenazy (Royal Festival Hall, London)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 

External links

  • Rudolf Barshai's Facebook Page* ru:Нота (фильм) The Note film
  • Rudolf Barshai's discography
  • Biography – in Russian
  • Obituary in The New York Times
Preceded by
Luciano Berio
Artistic Director, Israel Chamber Orchestra
Succeeded by
Uri Segal
Preceded by
Uri Segal
Principal Conductor, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Andrew Litton
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