Death of a violin legend, 92

Death of a violin legend, 92


norman lebrecht

July 10, 2019

We have been informed of the death last night of Aaron Rosand, one of the last lions of the American violin. He was 92 and had been suffering from pneumonia.

Born in Hmmond, Indiana, he studied at Curtis with Efrem Zimbalist and taught there from 1981 until his retirement three months ago. When he sold his 1741 Guarneri del Gesù in 2009 for $10 million, he donated $1.5m to Curtis, where his pupils included Ray Chen, Benjamin Schmid and Alexander Kerr.

Curtis Institute President Roberto Díaz called him ‘the greatest violin teacher of his time.’

Although he performed and recorded extensively, Rosand resented what he saw as the iron grip that Isaac Stern exerted on the American violin scene. In an article for Slipped Disc, and an ongoing debate, he accused Stern of sabotaging his career.

Yet he was not a bitter man, and his many students remember his warmth, his expertise and his personal charm.

As for his art, he was a late romantic of limitless expression.

Tributes here.


  • Nick2 says:

    I had the pleasure of engaging him in the 1980s. He was a great artist and a modest a lovely person.

  • Nathaniel Rosen says:

    RIP. Aaron, my friend and colleague.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    I always loved his recording of the much less frequently played second Bruch Concerto

    I remember the long, spirited on SD the other year re: Mr R’s comments on Isaac Stern. All very mean-spirited of the latter, esp his crow-barring of Bernstein to change the Barber Violin Cto soloist from Rosand to Stern.


  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    The great Rosand was in good company as Stern tried to restrict Henryk Szeryng’s career in the US, despite Szeryng and Stern both being common friend of Rubinstein.

    All very sordid stuff.

    One of the funny things to come out of the Isaac S business was the NYPO having a phrase “Earn with Stern” as recording sessions invariably went over time as the engineers desperately tried to stitch takes togther where there were a reasonable number of notes in tune !

    • Minnesota says:

      I could believe the anecdote re Stern’s playing in tune. Toward the end of his career he performed with the St Paul Chamber Orchestra. His playing was shockingly bad, squeaking and squawking and out of tune. I was amazed. Harold C. Schonberg in his Vladimir Horowitz biography said that VH in the 1970s was very critical of Stern’s playing, saying that he didn’t practice enough and was too busy being a celebrity.

      • Scott says:

        You are correct. The only time I heard him live was in the Trout Quintet in the early 80s. It was so out-of-tune it was painful. I talked to one of my theory professors who was also a professional violinist about Stern. I remarked that he had lost his “ear.” My teacher responded, “no, it is his bow arm.”

  • Student of the maestro says:

    His love for music and for his students are some of the things that I’ll never forget. He was a great influence and showed me a glimpse in the golden era of violin, I promise I’ll pass on the knowledge he’s given me. He was always supportive in lessons even when he clear hates some things I do. He loves his students so much that he would go out of his way to protect them (as shown in his essays here regarding competition), not afraid to offend anyone, some may think he’s too arrogant saying those things, but we as the students love him for it because of his love for the students, he never meant that his students must win (hence why he stopped judging competitions) but he just wanted a fair environment. When we lose an audition or competition, he would truly feel our sadness with us (not many teachers care about students like him, I’ve had enough experiences). I’m forever grateful to his knowledge and proud to be his pupil.

  • Carole says:

    Listening to Aaron Rosand’s recording of the Bruch. Simply exquisite. R.I.P.

  • Sanda Schuldmann says:

    An absolute casualty of the corruption of the classical music industry. Incredible artist. So sad to learn of his passing. We are lucky to have some of his music on disc!
    R I P

  • Richard Whte says:

    Interesting that I see no mention of his wonderful wife and collaborator, the pianist Eileen Flissler. Their Beethoven sonata series at the Grand St. Playhouse in NYC in the 60’s is indelibly imprinted in my memory…

  • MacroV says:

    I never had the opportunity to hear him in concert but I have a number of his recordings, which I love. His late-career recordings of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas and the Beethoven/Brahms concertos are wonderful, an old master still in terrific form.

    A shame his career was apparently sabotaged but in the end, but I suspect in the long run his reputation may outlive others.