Notes and Editorial Reviews
Michael Rabin (1936-1972) died at the very early age of just thirty-five. The cause of his death was given as a fall, though he had been suffering from mental health issues for some time beforehand. Rabin was acclaimed in America in a manner that only Jascha Heifetz and Mischa Elman had been till then. He refused to enter a recording studio after 1959, and so the studio and live recordings he did make and that form his musical legacy have continued to this day to attract considerable attention. His tragic death has been seen by some as the result of the enormous pressure and expectations exerted by audiences and the media, especially on talented young musicians. Rabin’s father played violin with the New York Philharmonic, while his mother was a pianist. He began to make music at the age of three and made his first public appearance at eleven; just three years later, at the age of fourteen, he launched his international career with a highly acclaimed concert at Carnegie Hall. He learned early on to exploit his virtuoso talent and to give audiences what they craved. And he did indeed give performances of breathtaking quality. Audiences were in thrall to him in Europe and America and especially in Israel, where he often gave concerts. His programmes often included the most popular violin concertos, some of the principal sonatas and – often given as encores – those works that show off a virtuoso’s brilliance to the best advantage. Rabin complained in interviews that impresarios all too often wanted him to perform the same works for their programmes. He saw it as a great honor therefore, when Paul Creston dedicated his Second Violin Concerto to him. The premiere was given under the baton of Georg Solti on November 17, 1960 in Los Angeles and the recording made of it rounds off this documentation of an outstanding artist whom American critics called “a true and rare genius”.