Ruth Posselt in rehearsal with the Boston Symphony

Ruth Posselt - proclaimed by none other than Serge Koussevitsky to be one of the "greatest Violinists of our time".

Ruth Posselt With Charles Munch And The Boston Symphony Rehearse Bloch And Haydn – 1951 – Past Daily Weekend Gallimaufry

Ruth Posselt in rehearsal with the Boston Symphony
Ruth Posselt – proclaimed by none other than Serge Koussevitsky to be one of the “greatest Violinists of our time”.

Ruth Posselt with Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony In Rehearsal – March 24, 1951

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Continuing our series of Boston Symphony Rehearsals. This week it’s the BSO under Music Director Charles Munch and the legendary American violinist Ruth Posselt in a rehearsal of Ernst Bloch‘s Baal Shem (Pictures of Hassidic Life in 3 Movements).

A little background on the violinist Ruth Posselt via Wikipedia:

Posselt studied violin with Emanuel Ondříček, a former student of Eugène Ysaÿe, and made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1923. She won the Schubert Memorial Prize in 1929, toured France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, the Soviet Union in the early 1930s and made her first tour of the United States in 1935. She performed with the National Orchestral Association, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Columbia Symphony Orchestra and frequently with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She was invited to perform at The White House by President and Mrs. Roosevelt in 1937. Posselt toured frequently as a recitalist, and formed a duo with pianist Luise Vosgerchian in 1958.

Posselt performed several world premieres in her career, including Walter Piston’s First Violin Concerto, a piece which was written for her, in 1940. (Violin Concerto No. 1) She also premiered a violin concerto by Vladimir Dukelsky, a.k.a. Vernon Duke, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and conductor Serge Koussevitsky in March 1943. Also with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Posselt premiered violin concertos by composers Edward Burlingame Hill (Concerto for Violin, Opus 38), in 1939, and Samuel Barber (revised version of Concerto for Violin and Orchestra), in 1949, and played the New York premiere of Paul Hindemith’s Violin Concerto in 1941. In 1944, Posselt premiered Aaron Copland’s Violin Sonata with the composer at the piano.

She married violinist, concertmaster, and conductor Richard Burgin on July 3, 1940. Their son, Richard W. Burgin, is the author of numerous short-story collections and novels. Their daughter, Diana Lewis Burgin, is an author, Professor of Russian at the University of Massachusetts Amherst


Sadly, all but forgotten now, save for collectors and serious violin students, Ruth Posselt was one of the great violinists of the 20th Century. The dedicatee of numerous violin works throughout her career, she was highly regarded and widely admired by colleagues and audiences alike. The fact that she made virtually no commercial recordings may have been one factor in her being unfairly ignored by present-day audiences. Luckily, many of her live concert recordings have been preserved and circulated over the years – so there is documented proof of just how great she was. But as is the case with many glimpses, you wish there was a vast catalog to pore over. Unfortunately, no.

In addition to the Bloch rehearsal, there is time left to rehearse Haydn’s Drum Roll Symphony, which concludes the all-too-brief half hour.

As always, a glimpse into the inner-workings of an orchestra – the extra bonus this week of Orchestra with Soloists is an added attraction.

Enjoy and come back next week.

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