Two weeks ago, the world lost a true living legend of the violin, Daniel Shindarov.
For this writer, violinist and good friend of Daniel, this was very sad news, as we all expected him to be performing his breathtaking performances for many years to come even at the age of 96. No violinist lived to his age while retaining his extraordinary technical and musical abilities. I had the privilege to videotape at least 30 of his performances over the last 30 years including the last amazing virtuoso performances.
Born in Odessa, Daniel was a student of the great Russian pedagogue, Piotr Stolarsky, teacher of legendary violinists Misha Elman, Nathan Milstein and David Oistrakh. He then continued his studies with David Oistrakh.
After receiving his Masters Degree from the Moscow Conservatory, he served as concertmaster of the Bolshoi Theater of Opera and Ballet until 1975, when he moved to the United States. Here, he was concertmaster of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, LA Chamber Orchestra, and he also performed with the Master Symphony Orchestra and Seattle Symphony and many other ensembles while maintaining an active solo career. He was a recording artist with the film industry in Los Angeles for many years.
His solo playing included astonishing programs of the most demanding virtuoso works for the violin from start to finish - even at the age of 95. Most violinists would be happy to include one of these compositions at the end of a program and never attempt to perform a complete program of such virtuoso works for violin. He was so relaxed while playing this repertoire with old school romanticism, incredible staccato runs, double harmonics, left hand pizzicato and an elegant stage presence that must be witnessed to believe.
A typical review would state "Spontaneous displays of astonishing virtuosity, bravura, stylish musicality and incomparable playing." I first heard him with the LA Youth Orchestra conducted by Mehli Mehta about 30 years ago, when he performed the Paganini Violin Concerto. I have been a Shindarov addict ever since. He often performed the Tchaikovsky concerto with various California orchestras, including an extraordinary performance at Disney Hall.
To spend social time with Daniel was a privileged experience. Always immaculately dressed with a consummate memory of the history of his times and vast knowledge of the violin, he regaled one with incredible stories and with a great sense of humor. And there was always wonderful Russian food. His condo was like visiting a great Russian palace with astonishing antiques and photos of his many famous friends, colleagues, composers, musicians and conductors. His wife Sophia Moyakukla told us that he heard Heifetz for the first time in Moscow at the age of 10, and he was his friend in LA. Heifetz always remembered the boy he met. He often performed on the wonderful Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu violins owned by dear friends, Dr. William Sloan and professor Judy Sloan.
Daniel’s father was said to have lived to the age of 115. Had it not been for COVID and other last-minute issues, Daniel certainly would have come close. Even at the age of 95, he continued to practice four to five hours per day while still arranging new amazing virtuoso pieces for the violin. He was tireless on stage. A typical encore would be Rondo Capriccioso by Saint-Saens and with Daniel’s signature extra arpeggio flourish.
I was working on a tour for him in Japan when the pandemic closed our industry. Please keep his memory alive and do take the time to visit his website, Shindarov.com, and watch the many videos of him performing live on YouTube - here is playlist of more recent performances he gave in his 90s.
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