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Music Academy Responds to Passing of Acclaimed Violinist Zvi Zeitlin

He served as a faculty member at the academy from 1973 to 2011

Music Academy of the West President Scott Reed has issued the following statement regarding the death of celebrated violinist Zvi Zeitlin, who served as a faculty member at the renowned classical music institution from 1973 to 2011.

“Zvi Zeitlin was a living testament to the power and nobility of music and life lived in its service,” Reed said. “An iconic presence in the great concert halls and teaching studios of the world, Zvi was a man of uncommon vision and generosity of spirit, and we are profoundly grateful for his many lasting contributions to the Music Academy of the West over nearly four decades. An entire generation of accomplished, self-assured violinists will serve as an enduring tribute to his extraordinary gifts as a teacher and mentor.”

Considered one of the most important violinists of the 20th century, Zeitlin became the youngest scholarship student in the history of Juilliard at age 11, and went on to perform the entire violin repertoire with most of the great orchestras of the world under such conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Christoph von Dohnányi, James Levine, Pierre Boulez and Igor Stravinsky.

A founding member of the Eastman Trio, he recorded all of Stravinsky’s violin and piano works and the unaccompanied Elegy, as well as works by American composers Aaron Copland, Alfred Reynolds, Lukas Foss, Jacob Druckman, Samuel Adler and George Rochberg.

Zeitlin recently retired as professor of violin at the Eastman School of Music, where he had been a faculty member since 1967. He was named the conservatory’s first Kilbourn Professor (1974) and Distinguished Professor of Violin (1998).

In January, he became the inaugural recipient of the honorary title Emeritus Faculty Member in recognition of his many contributions while at the Music Academy of the West.

Zeitlin died at age 90 on Wednesday in New York. The Music Academy will celebrate his legacy during its 65th annual Summer Festival, which begins June 18.

— Tim Dougherty is the communications manager for the Music Academy of the West.

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