Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rudolf Barshai (1924-2010)

Rudolf Barshai, the Russian-émigré violist and conductor for whom Dmitri Shostakovich wrote his last work, the Viola Sonata (1975), has died in Switzerland at the age of 86.

Barshai was perhaps best-known for his string-orchestra version of Shostakovich's Quartet No. 8, known as the Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a. Barshai also produced a highly regarded completion of Mahler's Tenth Symphony and an arrangement of Bach's "Art of the Fugue," finished shortly before his death.

He was a founding member of the Borodin Quartet in 1945, and in 1955 founded the Moscow Chamber Orchestra. After leaving the old Soviet Union in 1975, he conducted widely in Western Europe.

An obituary by Tully Potter in The Guardian (UK):