Efrem Zimbalist

Efrem Zimbalist Sr. (April 21, 1889 – February 22, 1985) was a concert violinist, composer, , conductor and director of the Curtis Institute of .

Efrem Zimbalist
man holding violin
Zimbalist with his violin, circa 1915–1920
Efrem Aleksandrovich Zimbalist (Russian: Ефрем Александрович Цимбалист)

(1889-04-09)April 9, 1889 [1][2][3][4]
DiedFebruary 22, 1985(1985-02-22) (aged 95)[5]
Spouse(s)Alma Gluck
Mary Louise Curtis Bok
Children2, including Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
RelativesStephanie Zimbalist (granddaughter)
Zimbalist and Alma Gluck

Early lifeEdit

Efrem Zimbalist, Sr., was born on April 9, 1888,[6][7][8][9] O. S., equivalent to April 21, 1889, in the Gregorian calendar, as reported in many newspaper obituaries, in the southwestern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, the son of Jewish parents Maria (née Litvinoff) and Aron Zimbalist (Цимбалист, Russian pronunciation [tsɪmbaˈlʲist]), who was a conductor.[10] By the age of nine, Efrem Zimbalist was first violin in his father’s orchestra. At age 12 he entered the Saint Petersburg Conservatory and studied under Leopold Auer. He graduated from the Conservatory in 1907 after winning a gold medal and the Rubinstein Prize, and by age 21 was considered one of the world's greatest violinists.[11]


After graduation he debuted in Berlin (playing the Brahms Concerto) and London in 1907 and in the United States in 1911, with the Symphony Orchestra. In 1912, he played the Glazunov Concerto in a concert marking Leopold Stokowski's first appearance with the London Symphony Orchestra. He then settled in the United States. He did much to popularize the performance of early . In 1917, he was elected as an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national fraternity for men in , by the fraternity's Alpha Chapter at the New England Conservatory of in . He retired as a violinist in 1949, but returned in 1952 to give the first performance of the Violin Concerto by Gian Carlo Menotti, which is dedicated to him. He retired again in 1955. He served as a juror of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1962 and 1966.

Curtis InstituteEdit

In 1928, Zimbalist began teaching at the Curtis Institute of in . He was director of the from 1941 to 1968. His pupils included such distinguished musicians as Lynn Blakeslee Aaron Rosand,[12] Oscar Shumsky, Norman Carol, Joseph Silverstein, Jascha Brodsky, John Dalley, Michael Tree, Felix Slatkin, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Harold Wippler, Leonid Bolotine, and Hidetaro Suzuki. See: List of music students by teacher: T to Z#Efrem Zimbalist.


His own compositions include a violin concerto, a piano concerto (1959), the American Rhapsody, a tone poem called Daphnis and Chloe, a Fantasy on themes from The Golden Cockerel by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, a Fantasy on Bizet's Carmen (1936) and a piece called Sarasateana, for viola and piano. He also wrote an opera, Landara, which premiered in 1956.[13]

Public lifeEdit

Pablo Casals writes in his biography, Joys and Sorrows, that Zimbalist was a member of the 's Committee to Aid Spanish Democracy which Casals founded and chaired in 1936.[14]

Personal lifeEdit

Zimbalist married the famous American soprano Alma Gluck and they toured together for a time. Alma Gluck died in 1938. In 1943, having been a widower for five years, he married the Curtis Institute of 's founder, Mary Louise Curtis Bok,[15] daughter of publisher Cyrus Curtis, and 14 years his senior.

He died in 1985, at the age of 95. His and Alma's son, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., and their granddaughter, Stephanie Zimbalist, both became popular actors.[16]


  1. ^ https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1002/images/CT-2283880-5085?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&queryId=58c62b194af5f86e5fbe3087ba18586b&usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTq1&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=1992248
  2. ^ https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89HF-HKLV?i=275&cc=2060123&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AW9YQ-4VZM
  3. ^ https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89HF-HKLV?i=275&cc=2060123&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AW9YQ-4VZM
  4. ^ https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G96B-CY1L?i=178&cc=2185145&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AQV5B-3Z4F
  5. ^ http://www.philadelphiamusicalliance.org/honoree.php?id=113
  6. ^ https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1002/images/CT-2283880-5085?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&queryId=58c62b194af5f86e5fbe3087ba18586b&usePUB=true&_phsrc=OTq1&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=1992248
  7. ^ https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89HF-HKLV?i=275&cc=2060123&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AW9YQ-4VZM
  8. ^ https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89HF-HKLV?i=275&cc=2060123&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AW9YQ-4VZM
  9. ^ https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G96B-CY1L?i=178&cc=2185145&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AQV5B-3Z4F
  10. ^ Malan, Roy (May 2004). Efrem Zimbalist: A Life. Amadeus Press. pp. 1. ISBN 1-57467-091-3.
  11. ^ Efrem Zimbalist: A Life. – by Roy Malan. Pompton Plains, NJ: Amadeus Press, 2004 ISBN 1-57467-091-3
  12. ^ "Biography". AaronRosand.com. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  13. ^ "Opera Composers: Z". Opera Glass. 29 November 2009. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
  14. ^ Casals P. and Kahn A. E. [Joys and Sorrows] Simon and Schuster 1974 p224.
  15. ^ Slonimsky, Nicolas (1978). "Zimbalist, Efrem". 's Biographical dictionary of musicians (6th ed.). Schirmer Books. pp. 1946–1947. ISBN 0-02-870240-9.
  16. ^ Boris Schwarz (1983). Great Masters of the Violin. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-22598-8.


  • Efrem Zimbalist: A Life. – by Roy Malan. Pompton Plains, NJ: Amadeus Press, 2004 ISBN 1-57467-091-3
  • Great Masters of the Violin – Boris Schwarz, : Simon and Schuster, 1983

External linksEdit