Obituary: Igor Bezrodnyi

Igor Bezrodnyi, violinist: born Tblisi, Georgia 7 May 1930; married Marie Tampere (one daughter); died Helsinki 30 September 1997.

The Russian violinist Igor Bezrodnyi followed a distinguished career as a soloist, chamber musician, teacher, conductor and adjudicator. He was one of the few remaining ex-pupils of Abram Yampolsky, one of the great teachers of his generation.

Both Bezrodnyi's parents were violinists and his father - Director of the Tblisi Philharmonic Orchestra and teacher at the Conservatoire - gave him his first lessons when he was six. At eight he was accepted into Yampolsky's class at the Moscow Central Music School and at 18 he moved for five years to the Moscow Conservatoire and a further three of post-graduate studies, all with Yampolsky; a total of 18 years.

Bezrodnyi was only 17 when he went in for his first international competition in Prague and shared the first prize with Leonid Kogan and Julian Sitkovetsky - all Yampolsky pupils. He was the first Soviet musician to win a string of first prizes in further competitions: in 1949 he won the Jan Kubelik Violin Competition - again in Prague - and in 1950 he repeated his success at the International Competition in Leipzig dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the birth of J.S. Bach.

Bezrodnyi began his solo career in 1947 and performed with much success all over the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and in more than 60 countries world-wide. For many years he was also the violinist of the celebrated "Moscow Trio" with the pianist Dmitri Bashkirov and the cellist Mikhail Khomitser.

Somehow he also found time for teaching: in 1953 he became Yampolsky's assistant at the Moscow Conservatoire, and was appointed full violin professor at the Sibelius Acamedy of Music in Helsinki. His teaching led to him giving masterclasses and again this meant travelling around the world to Finland, Germany, the United States, the UK, Japan, Israel and France. The list of international competitions on which he served on the jury is impressive, and includes the Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Bach, Wieniawski and the Spohr.

Normally it is difficult for a musician to be recognised in two fields of his profession, although today it is not as rare as it used to be. Bezrodnyi was not only recognised but was acclaimed both as solo violinist and conductor. Curiously, as a small child he had cherished ambitions to be a conductor, but had to postpone the realisation until he was established as a player. So although he was already a professor of violin, he returned to the Conservatoire in 1962 in order to study conducting with Professors Lev Ginsburg and Boris Khaikin.

In the latter capacity he was chief conductor of the Moscow Academic Chamber Orchestra 1976-81, chief conductor of the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra in Finland 1986-90, and as a guest conductor was invited to countries in Europe and North and South America. He was once asked why he wanted to conduct: "I love playing the violin and have loved it all my life, but the chance of a larger instrument with more possibilities always attracted me."

Elvira Bekova, of the Bekova Sisters Trio, was his pupil in Moscow for seven years and she emphasises the benefits she achieved from his teaching:

He would always quote Yampolsky as being aware of the individual needs of a student and he brought this vision into his own teaching. He could recognise immediately the special requirements of a particular student and would somehow make them respond in a way that made everything clear. Of course he insisted upon good technique but the technique was always a servant - never a master.

As a man Bezrodnyi was charming with an old-fashioned courtesy, especially towards women, and his students adored him. Highly intelligent, he had many interests outside music. One of these was filming and he never travelled anywhere without a camera. He once said: "Filming a situation, even an unimportant one, allows one to see more through the details or the composition of a shot." He was proud of having won so many first prizes for playing the violin but even prouder of having won second prize in an amateur film festival.

- Margaret Campbell

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