Henryk Szeryng

22.09.1918 - 8.03.1988
Voice/Instrument: Violine


Henryk Szeryng (usually pronounced HEN-rik SHEH-ring) (22 September 1918 – 3 March 1988) was a Polish violinist.

He was born in Żelazowa Wola, Poland on 22 September 1918 into a wealthy family.

Henryk started piano and harmony training with his mother when he was 5, and at age 7 turned to the violin, receiving instruction from Maurice Frenkel. After studies with Carl Flesch in Berlin (1929-32), he went to Paris to continue his training with Jacques Thibaud at the Conservatory, graduating with a premier prix in 1937.

He made his solo debut on 6 January 1933 playing the Brahms Violin Concerto with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra under Romanian conductor George Georgescu. From 1933 to 1939 he studied composition in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, and during World War II he worked as an interpreter for the Polish government in exile (Szeryng was fluent in seven languages) and gave concerts for Allied troops all over the world. During one of these concerts in Mexico City he received an offer to take over the string department of the university there.

In 1946, he became a naturalized citizen of Mexico.

Szeryng subsequently focused on teaching before resuming his concert career in 1954. His debut in New York City brought him great acclaim, and he toured widely for the rest of his life. He died in Kassel on 3 March 1988.

Szeryng made a number of recordings, including two of the complete sonatas and partitas for violin by Johann Sebastian Bach, and several of sonatas of Beethoven and Brahms with the pianist Arthur Rubinstein. He also composed; his works include a number of violin concertos and pieces of chamber music.

He owned the Del Gesu "Le Duc", the Stradivarius "King David" as well as the Messiah Strad copy by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume which he gave to Prince Rainier III of Monaco. The "Le Duc" was the instrument on which he performed and recorded mostly, and the "King David" was donated to the State of Israel.

"In 1941 he accompanied the prime minister to Latin America to find a home for some 4,000 Polish refugees; the refugees were taken in by Mexico, and Szeryng, in gratitude, settled there himself, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1946. Throughout World War II, he appeared in some 300 concerts for the Allies. After the war, he pursued a brilliant international career; was also active as a teacher. In 1970 he was made Mexico's special adviser to UNESCO in Paris. He celebrated the 50th anniversary of his debut with a grand tour of Europe and the U.S. in 1983."

"A cosmopolitan fluent in 7 languages, a humanitarian, and a violinist of extraordinary gifts, Szeryng became renowned as a musician's musician by combining a virtuoso technique with a probing discernment of the highest order."

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Composers' compositions

Aram Khachaturian
Violin concerto d-moll

Symphony / Symphonic music