Israel Phil in mourning for a veteran violinist

Israel Phil in mourning for a veteran violinist


norman lebrecht

January 26, 2016

Rodica Iosub has died of a rapid illness, aged 56.

Notice from the Israeli Philharmonic:


In 1981 a young violinist arrived for an audition at the IPO. A few minutes later the sounds of Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1 filled the hall, Maestro Mehta nodded – you have been accepted!

Violinist Rodica Iosub joined the orchestra 35 years ago and sadly, suddenly, parted from us yesterday.

Rodica began her musical career in Romania where she was considered a child prodigy. As a member of the Israel Philharmonic, she trained and helped many young musicians and was always happy to devote her abilities and time to others.

Rodica played in the first violin section of the orchestra. Despite numerous opportunities offer to her, she remained faithful to the IPO which she viewed as her home and her family. She loved to travel around the world – with the orchestra and with her family. Last November, she took part in the IPO’s tour of the U.S. just before falling sick. From her hospital bed, she told close friends how much she wanted to resume playing.

Maestro Mehta expressed his condolences: ‘Rodica was one of the most treasured violinists of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and played with the greatest enthusiasm since joining the orchestra in 1981. She was greatly appreciated by all her colleagues and myself throughout the years. We shall miss her.’


  • Robert Roy says:

    Many years ago, there was a programme on BBC2 produced by Humphrey Burton featuring young conductors being mentored by Mehta and were given the opportunity to conductud the Isreal Phil. The youngsters had to accompany a soloist in Paganini’s First violin concerto played by a young lady from the orchestra.

    I wonder if it was Rodica.

    • Vlad says:

      You are completely right!!!

      • RODNEY GREENBERG says:

        No Robert Roy, you are not completely right.

        There were five Zubin Mehta Masterclasses taped for BBC TV at the Mann Auditorium in December 1982, with Mehta tutoring five young conductors (one of them from London). They were co-produced by the Jerusalem Music Centre. They were shown at the end of 1983 on BBC2 and later repeated.

        It wasn’t only youngsters who accompanied the plucky students. There was the Rubin Academy Orchestra of Tel Aviv University, plus the Israel Philharmonic. Mehta gave the conductors a preliminary session looking through the scores, then hovered mercilessly near the podium while they tried their best. He was not interested in their personal interpretations or whether they could create a distinctly different sound in a mere half-hour session. His constant mantra was simple: “Get it TOGETHER!”

        This took some doing in the high-wire act of Paganini’s First Concerto. A conductor is there to bring in the orchestra with hair-trigger timing during the soloist’s free-ranging, tempo-bending, virtuosic fireworks. This is why Mehta chose this as a test piece. “Letter H” proved a predictable hurdle, de-railing each of them in turn. Through all this, Rodica Iosub-Cohen coolly played on and followed the beat, for better or worse. The programme ended with her performing the complete first movement with the IPO and Mehta on the podium.

        My wonderful colleague and mentor Humphrey Burton has made hundreds of legendary TV programmes. But he wasn’t the producer this time. They were directed, produced and edited by me. Tapes exist at the Jerusalem Music Centre and in the BBC archives.They represent a bygone standard in BBC masterclasses. The next time BBC2 tried a conducting masterclass, in 2008, it came out as “Maestro”, an audience-pulling series (in the form of a knock-out competition, naturally), with Clive Anderson cracking jokes scripted by a gag-writer and eight celebrity conductors, many of them unable to read music and all of them heaped with praise by distinguished judges from the music profession. If you want to see how “cultural programming” has, er, changed on BBC2, you can find “Maestro” archived on the BBC website.

  • Robert Roy says:

    Apologies for miss-spelling ISRAEL and some poor grammar!

  • Miriam Lynn Nelson says:

    Saddest greetings 🙁 I cannot believe I am reading this. Can someone please tell me exactly what happened to Rodica? She was so caring and so wonderful to me. I am also wondering about her two sons (Tomi and Doni) who she loved so dearly and her husband? Rodica grew up in Romania and was a cousin to my sister’s husband. She used to practice in my sister’s husband’s home in Romania as a young girl. I am a flutist professionally and performed chamber orchestra concerts with Rodica when time allowed whenever Rodica came to America. In fact, at one point, Rodica took an extended leave for about three years, from the IPO, thinking of obtaining a position in the NY Philharmonic and staying in America. She did play with them for one season over the summer, but could not obtain a position as she had with the IPO. During that time, we performed together regularly. For many reasons, things did not work out and she returned to Israel. Please I need to know exactly what happened. May she rest in peace. Many thanks.