Born: March 21, 1932
One of America's most respected musicians, violinist/conductor/artistic advisor and teacher Joseph Silverstein has contributed to American musical life since his first days with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Aside from his presence in live and recorded performances, he has been an important figure as a resource to many musical organizations, sharing expertise gained from his various responsibilities. Silverstein's training as a violinist was exceedingly sound. After entering Philadelphia's Curtis Institute in 1945, he studied with Efrem Zimbalist, the Auer-trained virtuoso noted for his patrician taste and immaculate technique. Later, Silverstein worked with Josef Gingold and Mischa Mischakoff, two other celebrated performing pedagogues. From this period of study, Silverstein emerged with the silvery, full-bodied tone and unshakable technique that would mark his subsequent solo and ensemble work. At the time he joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1955, he was its youngest member. His performance in the 1959 Concours Musical Reine Elisabeth brought the beginnings of celebrity in Europe and began a series of career-advancing events in his own country. Winning the Naumburg Foundation Award in 1960 led to a New York debut in 1961. When the BSO found its concertmaster chair open, it appointed Silverstein to that position in 1962. In his position as BSO concertmaster, Silverstein was heard not only in the violin solo moments within the orchestral repertory, but also as featured soloist both in performance and on recording. Under four BSO conductors, beginning with Charles Münch, whose tenure ran until 1963, Silverstein came to be known as one of the most able solo voices among concertmasters anywhere. With Erich Leinsdorf, who served as conductor from 1963 to 1968, Silverstein recorded impressive interpretations of the Stravinsky and Bartók concertos, and under Seiji Ozawa, his solo role in Vivaldi's Four Seasons was equally distinctive. In association with his BSO position, he served a chairman of the Tanglewood Music Center faculty. Other academic responsibilities followed, beginning in the 1970s with teaching appointments at Yale and Boston universities. In addition to his position as assistant conductor with the BSO, gained in 1971, Silverstein began to accept both guest engagements and appointments to other orchestras. In 1980, he accepted the musical directorship of the nearby Worcester, MA, symphony orchestra and the next year became the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's principal guest conductor. In 1983, Silverstein was called upon to replace Varujan Kojian as conductor of the Utah Symphony Orchestra. Silverstein remained there as artistic director for 15 years, having given up his BSO concertmaster position shortly after beginning his tenure in Salt Lake City. In November 2001, Silverstein was appointed acting music director of the Florida Philharmonic following the sudden resignation of James Judd, who had led the orchestra for 14 years. The Florida orchestra was already one of ten organizations in the United States and Canada being served by Silverstein as artistic advisor. The appointment was for an 18-month period while a search would be conducted for a permanent music director. By January 2002, Silverstein was already directing performances. Silverstein is a faculty member at both the Curtis Institute and the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA.