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Ivry Gitlis (in Hebrew: עברי גיטליס) (born August 25, 1922) is an Israeli violinist and ambassador of goodwill to Unesco.
He was born in Haifa, Israel (then Palestine), of Russian emigrant parents. He received his first violin lessons at the age of six, with nine he gave his first concerts, and at ten he caught the attention of Bronislaw Huberman, who recommended that he continue his studies in Paris. There he studied violin at the Paris Conservatory. His teachers include well-known violinists such as Carl Flesch, George Enescu and Jacques Thibaud.
During the war he moved to England, where he worked in a weapons factory, to collaborate in the struggle against National Socialist Germany. After he engaged in numerous concerts to support the troops.
In the mid-1950s he recorded with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra the “horses of battle” of violinistic literature, among them the violin concertos of Tchaikovsky, Bruch, Mendelssohn and Sibelius, as well as the Violin Concerto No. 1 of Bartok and his Sonata for violin solo.
In the 50s he became a lawyer of contemporary music and his concerts were an object of worship in the Parisian existentialist circles. In the 60s he recorded Violin Concerts No. 1 and 2 by Paganini, but also modern classics such as Igor Stravinsky, Paul Hindemith and Alban Berg (also his Concerto for violin, piano and winds).
In 1965 he made a highly acclaimed appearance with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, where he played Bartok’s Concerto for Violin No. 1. Two years later he returned to play there before a half-empty stalls.
In 1968 he participated in John Lennon’s Dirty Mac project, where he appeared with Yōko Ono, for the British television program The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.
In 1971 Bruno Maderna wrote for him his Pièce pour Ivry, and in 1972 he premiered a solo violin piece by Iannis Xenakis. In 1972 he also participated in a concert in Tel Aviv in tribute to Bronislaw Huberman, in which great violinists of the time were found (among others the very young Pinchas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman). Again he played the Bartok Concerto No. 2 violin.
In 1980 he published his autobiography (in French) and in 1990 he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for Unesco, his goal being “support for education and the culture of peace and tolerance”.
In 2001, already an old man, he gave concerts with Martha Argerich, in which he played among other works the Sonata Kreutzer by Ludwig van Beethoven and the Sonata for violin by César Franck and Claude Debussy.
Since the end of the 60s he established his residence in Paris, France.
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