Sadness: Igor Oistrakh has died

Sadness: Igor Oistrakh has died


norman lebrecht

September 01, 2021

The Soviet-era violinist, son of the legendary David Oistrakh, died on August 14, it was announced today in Moscow. Igor turned 90 in April this year.

After studies with his father, he was brought to London by Victor Hocchauser in the 1950s and had instant appeal, both with the Royal Albert Hall audience and on record. A 1959 recording of the Bach double concerto with his father is an indispensable masterpiece.

In Moscow, Igor taught at the Conservatoire from 1965 and founded a soloists’ ensemble that he conducted. After the collapse of the USSR, he was professor at the Brussels Conservatoire and a tutor at Verbier.

With his wife, the pianist Natalia Zertsalova, he recorded the complete Mozart and Beethoven violin-piano sonatas.

A reticent man, less gregarious than his father, he opened up in the teaching rooms, sharing all that he knew with the Verbier kids.

His son, Valery, plays viola.

UPDATE: Igor Oistrakh’s finest moments


  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    RIP. A great player plus link with the past.
    I will listen to the Bach double recorded with his father.

    Thanks for passing this news on

  • David K. Nelson says:

    King David and Prince Igor also recorded the Bach Double in 1967, with Kondrashin conducting; it was released on a Russian Revelation CD RV 10039 with other music for two violins by Vivaldi, the beautifully slithery Ysaÿe Amitié with orchestra, and works by Wieniawski, Prokofiev and Sarasate. Somewhat easier to find would be the Deutsche Grammophon CD with David and Igor playing that same Vivaldi Double Concerto (a knock-out recording with the Royal Philharmonic, still quite vivid sounding stereo), again Wieniawski and Sarasate (the Narvarra again but this time with orchestra, and Baroque era sonatas for two violins and keyboard by Bach (attributed), Handel and Benda.

    Igor can also be heard with his father in the double concertos of Bach and Vivaldi with Franz Konwitschny conducting on Berlin Classics BC 2130-2. Igor plays the Bach E major and the reconstructed Bach D Minor BWV 1052.

    Berlin Classics BC 2131-2 has David playing the Mozart #5, and Igor playing the two Beethoven Romances and Wieniawski Concerto #2, with Konwitschny conducting.

    Another Berlin Classics CD BC 2132-2 features David and Igor but no duos: David plays Leclair Sonata and Kodály Hungarian Dances, while Igor plays the Stravinsky Suite Italienne, Prokofiev 5 Melodies (a specialty of his father’s) and Brahms’s Third Sonata with Natalia Serzalowa (German spelling).

    Still another version of the Vivaldi Double Concerto was on Preludio PHC 2149, with David playing Mozart #5 and Szymanowski.

    A Russian Revelation CD RV 10034 devoted to Gennady Rozhdestvensky is “all Igor” with the Sibelius Concerto, Glazunov Concerto, and Schumann Concerto.

    Le Chant du Monde from Harmonia Mundi France had a large David Oistrakh edition and at least two discs featured Igor. LDC 278 944 CM 211 has the brief Honegger Sonata for two violins and French sonatas played by David; LDC 278 906 CM 211 has the Bach Double conducted by Barshai, David and Igor in duo sonatas by Spohr and Haydn, and the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante with David and Barshai on viola.

    Igor’s son Valeri also plays or played violin and a 1990 MCA disc in cooperation with Melodiya “The Igor Oistrakh Trio” has music I have already mentioned but here played by Igor and Valeri: the Bach trio sonata in C, Prokofiev Sonata for two violins, Ysaÿe Amitié but here with piano, and closes out with the entertaining Moritz Moszkowski Suite in G Minor. On the piano is Natalia Zertsalova. The cover photo reveals that (then) young Valeri had clearly inherited the Oistrakh family hairline. The family violin virtuosity maybe not so much.

    These CDs may now be hard to track down but I wanted to document some possibilities for the avid collector to seek out if they are interested in getting to know the artistry of Igor Oistrakh.

    • Le Křenek du jour says:

      A number of Igor Oistrakh records are available as lossless CD-quality (or better, in a few instances) downloads from Qobuz:

      Some are very low-cost digitized transcriptions from BNF archives, mostly of documentary value, but certainly worth the few pennies.

      The heavy discographic presence of the Oistrakhs at Le Chant du Monde need some explaining:
      After WW II and until 1990, Le Chant du Monde gyrated in the orbit of the French Communist party, being associated with the PCF’s « Les Éditions sociales ». Since the 1950s, LCdM became one of the main outlets for Soviet music and musicians in the West. After the fall of the Soviet bloc and the collapse of French Communists as a cultural force, LCdM was taken over by Harmonia Mundi, which inherited its catalogue.

      It now belongs to the Wise Music Group.
      The latter changed its name last year, wisely, from The Music Sales Group.
      Although Le Chant du Monde as a subsidiary of the Music Sales Group would have provided a forthright statement of Haves and Have-Nots.

  • Robert Roy says:

    A very sad day for lovers of the violin. I was lucky enough to hear him many times and he always delivered a terrific performance.

    My earliest memory of Igor Oistrakh’s was a Melodyia Lp my father brought home from Canada of him playing the Tchaikovsky concerto under his father. I literally played that heavy vinyl Lp until it wore out. Years later, after it was neglected by the record companies, I found an open reel tape and had it transferred to cd.

    RIP, Maestro and thank you for the music.

  • M2N2K says:

    It is rather odd that his death which occurred on 14th of August was not reported until 1st of September. None of the sources that I have seen including those from Russia gives convincing explanation for such a long delay.

  • José Bergher says:

    Great violinist, great artist, great teacher.

  • opus30 says:

    He performed with the Kansas City Philharmonic back in the 70s. I was at the concert but do not recall the concerto he played.

  • Edgar Self says:

    A long, rich life amid three generations of string players in his family. I attended his Chicago recital sometime after 1985 and especially loove the Wieniawski etudes-caprice he and his father recorded.

  • yoka boshoff says:

    I am touched!