Henryk Szeryng

Biography

Born: September 22, 1918; Zelazowa Wola, Poland   Died: March 3, 1988; Kassel, Germany  
Polish-born violinist Henryk Szeryng was probably the finest product of Carl Flesch's legendary teaching career. Possessing an iron technique and a musical intellect of rare insight, Szeryng established himself as one of the pre-eminent concert violinists of the post-World War II decades.

Szeryng was born in 1918 to a wealthy Polish industrialist whose wife had a great love of music. Studies on the piano were abandoned for the
Read more violin, though Szeryng remained skilled at the keyboard for the rest of his life. Szeryng progressed quickly on his new instrument and by age nine was sufficiently proficient to perform the Mendelssohn concerto for famed violinist Bronislaw Hubermann, a friend of the family. On Hubermann's advice Szeryng was sent to Berlin to study with Carl Flesch; Szeryng would later declare that his technical prowess was solely due to that masterful teacher's influence. Two years later in 1933, Szeryng made his debut performance in Warsaw with the Beethoven concerto under Bruno Walter. That same year he embarked on a minor concert tour, soloing with orchestras in Bucharest, Vienna, and Paris.

Szeryng immediately took to the city of Paris and settled there for a period of further study and growth as a performer. There he came under the influence of legendary violinists Enescu and Thibaud, though he did not formally study with either. Szeryng also thought about pursuing composition as a career, and for six years took lessons from Nadia Boulanger.

At the outbreak of war in 1939 Szeryng enlisted with the Polish army. Being fluent in seven languages, he was assigned to General Sikorski as a translator, with whom Szeryng helped to relocate hundreds of Polish refugees in Mexico. During the war Szeryng gave hundreds of concerts for Allied troops around the globe, and in 1943, during a concert series in Mexico City, was invited to take over the string department at the University of Mexico. Szeryng accepted the offer, and assumed his duties in 1946.

He spent the next ten years in Mexico, and eventually took citizenship there. Performing infrequently, Szeryng was largely forgotten in the musical centers of Europe. A chance encounter with fellow Pole Artur Rubinstein in Mexico City convinced Szeryng to re-enter the musical scene. A New York debut in 1956 immediately established Szeryng as a leading violinist of the day, and for the next 30 years Szeryng divided his time between a globe-trotting concert schedule and his teaching duties in Mexico.

As a violinist Szeryng was unique; sometimes criticized for being too restrained, he was nevertheless capable of playing with warmth and fire when he felt compelled to do so (as in his magnificent performances of the Sibelius concerto). His excellent recordings include two full sets of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas, as well as the major violin concertos in the repertory (he has also championed and recorded the work of many composers from his adopted country of Mexico). Recordings of the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas with Artur Rubinstein are particularly rewarding. Of note also is Szeryng's world-premiere recording of Paganini's E major Violin Concerto No. 3, which Szeryng himself reconstructed from parts held in the archives of the legendary Italian violinist's heirs.

Szeryng could at times be somewhat inconsistent. In live performances his calculated precision might turn cold, and in later years it is rumored that troubles with alcohol led to a somewhat deteriorated technical ability. Until his death in 1988 he traveled with a Mexican diplomatic passport, and was involved in various humanitarian projects through the United Nations; Szeryng never ceased believing in music as a unifying, healing power. Read less
Paganini: Violin Concertos No 1 & 4 / Szeryng, Gibson
Release Date: 11/20/2007   Label: Pentatone  
Catalog: 5186178   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 1-25 of 75 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Philips Classics: The Stereo Years
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002445602 Release Date: 02/19/2016   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Jean Sibelius,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Robert Schumann,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Salvatore Accardo,  Elly Ameling,  Dalton Baldwin,  Jörg Demus  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis,  Bernard Haitink,  Raymond Leppard,  Eduard Van Beinum  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Bach Adagio [2015]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002415902 Release Date: 11/20/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ferruccio Busoni
    Performer:  János Starker,  András Schiff,  Janine Jansen,  Albrecht Mayer  ... 
    Conductor:  Christopher Hogwood,  Ottavio Dantone,  Riccardo Chailly,  John Eliot Gardiner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music,  English Concert,  Academia Bizantina  ... 
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  • 3.
    Henryk Szeryng Plays Nardini, Vieuxemps, Ravel, Schumann
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 94229 Release Date: 03/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pietro Nardini,  Henri Vieuxtemps,  Maurice Ravel,  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng
    Conductor:  Hans Rosbaud
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  • 4.
    Rca Living Stereo Collection, Vol. 2
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 300350 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein,  Byron Janis,  Gary Graffman,  Vladimir Horowitz  ... 
    Conductor:  Josef Krips,  Fritz Reiner,  Pierre Monteux,  Charles Munch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony of the Air,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    Balanchine - New York City Ballet In Montreal Vol 2
    Label: Video Artists International   Catalog: 4572 Release Date: 05/06/2014  
    Composer:  Various
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng,  Noël Brunet
    Conductor:  Robert Irving,  Arthur Davison,  Jean Deslauriers
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Radio Canada Orchestra
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  • 6.
    English Accents: Oboe Players In England During The 1950s
    Label: Oboe Classics   Catalog: 2027 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Frederick Delius,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Michael Winfield,  Sidney Sutcliffe,  Leonard Brain,  Edward Selwyn  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli,  Geraint Jones,  John Minchinton,  Sir Colin Davis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dennis Brain Wind Ensemble,  Collegium Musicum Londinii,  London Baroque Ensemble  ... 
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  • 7.
    The Hubermann Week Festival, 30th Anniversary
    Label: Helicon   Catalog: 29667 Release Date: 01/14/2014   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Shlomo Mintz,  Isaac Stern,  Daniel Benyamini,  Pinchas Zukerman  ... 
    Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
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  • 8.
    Discover... Beethoven
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001912702 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Arthur Grumiaux,  Ingrid Haebler,  Henryk Szeryng  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Alceo Galliera,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Sir Colin Davis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Beaux Arts Trio
    CD: $6.99
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  • 9.
    Bernard Haitink - The Philips Years [20-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001903502 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Richard Wagner  ... 
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng,  Herman Krebbers,  Menahem Pressler,  Isidore Cohen  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Beaux Arts Trio  ... 
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  • 10.
    Beethoven Masterworks Collection  [51-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001813172 Release Date: 03/19/2013   Number of Discs: 51
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Janet Perry,  Agnes Baltsa,  Vinson Cole,  José Van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  John Eliot Gardiner,  Carlos Kleiber,  Leonard Bernstein  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $118.49
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  • 11.
    Arthur Rubinstein Plays Brahms
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 760992 Release Date: 06/12/2012   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein,  Henryk Szeryng,  Gregor Piatigorsky,  Pierre Fournier  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner,  Josef Krips
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Guarneri String Quartet members
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  • 12.
    Late Romantic Masterpieces / Charles Munch
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 899792 Release Date: 06/12/2012   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Antonín Dvorák,  Gustav Mahler  ... 
    Performer:  Eileen Farrell,  Henryk Szeryng,  Gregor Piatigorsky,  Maureen Forrester
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Brahms, Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos / Haitink, Szeryng, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    Label: Newton Classics   Catalog: 8802053 Release Date: 04/26/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Vivaldi: Four Seasons, Concerti / Szeryng, English Chamber Orchestra
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 422479 Release Date: 04/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng
    Conductor:  Henryk Szeryng
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra
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  • 15.
    Brahms: Piano Concerto, Tragic Overture / Richter, Szeryng, Leinsdorf, Ormandy, Monteux
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 24693 Release Date: 02/17/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng,  Sviatoslav Richter
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 16.
    Brahms: Concertos, Symphonies / Haitink, Arrau, Szeryng, Starker [7-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001479902 Release Date: 10/19/2010   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Claudio Arrau,  Henryk Szeryng,  János Starker
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
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  • 17.
    The Art of Violin
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 4639 Release Date: 06/29/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Ernest Chausson,  Franz Schubert (Dresden),  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux,  Nathan Milstein,  Christian Ferras,  David Oistrakh  ... 
    Conductor:  Kiril Kondrashin,  Aram Khachaturian
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  • 18.
    50 Classical Music Favorites
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001388102 Release Date: 06/08/2010   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Luigi Boccherini,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Heinz Holliger,  Italo Colandrea,  Antonio Perez,  Michael Copley  ... 
    Conductor:  Frans Brüggen,  Sir Colin Davis,  Kurt Masur,  Silvio Varviso  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  I Musici
    CD: $11.99
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  • 19.
    Label: Archipel   Catalog: 442 Release Date: 05/25/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn,  Robert Schumann,  Georges Bizet
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng,  Maurice Gendron
    Conductor:  André Cluytens
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  • 20.
    Paganini: Violin Concerto No 3; Lalo: Symphonie Espagnole / Szeryng, Gibson, Van Remoortel
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 422976 Release Date: 05/13/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edouard Lalo,  Niccolň Paganini
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng
    Conductor:  Edouard Van Remoortel,  Sir Alexander Gibson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monte Carlo National Opera Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 21.
    Ponce: Violin Concerto; Galindo, Revueltas / Batiz, Szeryng
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 49785 Release Date: 04/08/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Silvestre Revueltas,  Blas Galindo Dimas,  Manuel Ponce,  José P. Moncayo García
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng
    Conductor:  Enrique Bátiz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra,  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  Mexican State Symphony Orchestra
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  • 22.
    Ravel: Tzigane; Saint-Saens: Violin Concerto / Szeryng
    Label: Philips Silverline Classics   Catalog: 420887 Release Date: 04/08/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng
    Conductor:  Edouard Van Remoortel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Monte Carlo Opera Orchestra
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  • 23.
    The Magic Of The Violin / Grumiaux, Szeryng, Bobesco, Bernard
    Label: Philips   Catalog: 420818 Release Date: 04/08/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Pablo de Sarasate,  Tommaso Antonio Vitali  ... 
    Performer:  Arthur Grumiaux,  Claire Bernard,  Jacques Genty,  Lola Bobesco  ... 
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Manuel Rosenthal,  Clair Gibaut,  Sir Neville Marriner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Lamoureux Concerts Association Orchestra,  Monte Carlo National Opera Orchestra  ... 
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  • 24.
    Ultimate Brahms [5-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001313402 Release Date: 08/25/2009   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms
    Performer:  Henryk Szeryng,  János Starker,  Claudio Arrau
    Conductor:  Bernard Haitink,  Wolfgang Sawallisch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
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  • 25.
    Henryk Szeryng In Recital
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 37334 Release Date: 05/08/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Tommaso Antonio Vitali,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Fritz Kreisler  ... 
    Performer:  Charles Reiner,  Henryk Szeryng
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