JACQUES ISRAELIEVITCH (May 6, 1948–September 5, 2015)
January 25, 2016
September 9, 2015: It is with great sadness that the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) mourns the passing of violinist Jacques Israelievitch, who died in Toronto on September 5 at the age of 67. After 20 distinguished years as Concertmaster of the TSO, Mr. Israelievitch retired from the Orchestra in 2008.
TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian comments, “The life of Jacques Israelievitch is one to be admired and celebrated. His absolute dedication to music, not only as a performer but also as a highly regarded pedagogue, served as an inspiration to all who knew him, and whose lives were touched by him. As Concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for 20 years, he served as a distinguished leader, greatly respected by his fellow musicians. While we mourn his passing, we can celebrate the legacy he left behind, and find comfort that the music world was made stronger because of his presence.”
President and CEO Jeff Melanson adds, “We are truly saddened to hear of the passing of Jacques Israelievitch. He was a true giant to the TSO and to so many other arts organizations and musicians as well. His legacy will live on through the many musicians he touched through his remarkable life.”
An internationally renowned violinist, Jacques Israelievitch has enjoyed an exciting and varied career as a concertmaster, soloist, chamber musician, teacher, and conductor. After making his debut on French National Radio at the age of 11, Mr. Israelievitch went on to graduate from the Paris Conservatory at 16 and was subsequently a prizewinner at the International Paganini Competition. His teachers included Henryk Szeryng, Janos Starker, William Primrose, and Josef Gingold.
Mr. Israelievitch began his orchestral career at age 23, when he was appointed by Sir Georg Solti as Assistant Concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra where he stayed for 6 years, and served as Concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony for 10 years. He joined the TSO in 1988. Upon his retirement from the TSO, Mr. Israelievitch praised his colleagues in the Orchestra for their supreme professionalism, and for being a wonderful, friendly group of musicians. “I will miss them, but I will continue playing with some of them in chamber music,” he said. “Since I won’t be playing in an orchestra full time anymore, I’ll have more time for solo playing, conducting, teaching, and other activities that have been difficult to pursue while being full-time Concertmaster.”
With numerous solo engagements to his credit, he has collaborated with Sir Georg Solti, Carlo Maria Giulini, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Andrew Davis, and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, appearing with many of the world’s major orchestras. As a celebrated chamber musician, Mr. Israelievitch has performed with Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, and Yo-Yo Ma, and as a conductor, he has served as Music Director of the Koffler Chamber Orchestra. A dedicated teacher, Mr. Israelievitch gave master classes around the world, served on the faculty of the University of Toronto and York University, and taught at the Chautauqua Institution in New York for 16 summers.
In 2004, the French government named Jacques Israelievitch Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters. He was also the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award for his distinguished contribution to the performing arts in Canada. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in August 2015.
Jacques Israelievitch is survived by his wife, Gabrielle; his sons, David, Michael (Ana-Sofia Campesino), and Joshua; and his grandchildren, Aya and Bennett.
Donations in memory of Jacques Israelievitch may be made to the Jacques Israelievitch Endowment for Violin/Viola and Interdisciplinary Arts at York University.
The TSO will announce the details of a special tribute to Mr. Israelievitch shortly.
About the TSO: Founded in 1922, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is one of Canada’s most important cultural institutions, recognized internationally as an outstanding orchestra. Music Director Peter Oundjian leads the TSO with a commitment to innovative programming and audience development through a broad range of performances that showcase the exceptional talents of the Orchestra along with a roster of distinguished guest artists and conductors. The TSO also serves the larger community with TSOUNDCHECK, the original under-35 ticket program; the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra; and music-education programs that reach over 50,000 students each year.
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