Concertmaster, Naoum Blinder Chair
Alexander Barantschik, occupant of the Naoum Blinder Chair, began his first season as Concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony in September 2001. Former concertmaster of the London Symphony Orchestra (1989-2001) and Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (1982-2001), he has also been an active soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe. He has collaborated in chamber music with André Previn and, on a number of occasions, Mstislav Rostropovich, with whom he participated in a series of concerts that also featured violinist Maxim Vengerov and violist Yuri Bashmet. As Leader of the LSO, Mr. Barantschik toured Europe, Japan, and the US, and served as concertmaster for acclaimed cycles of Mahler, Stravinsky, and Debussy with Michael Tilson Thomas, as well as major symphonic cycles with Rostropovich and Bernard Haitink. He was also concertmaster for Pierre Boulez's year-long, three-continent 75th Birthday Celebration. Born in Saint Petersburg in 1953, Alexander Barantschik attended the Saint Petersburg Conservatory and went on to perform with the major Russian orchestras, including the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic. After emigrating from Russia in 1979, he served as Concertmaster of Germany's Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. His awards include first prize in the International Violin Competition in Sion, Switzerland, and in the Russian National Violin Competition. Since joining the SFS, Mr. Barantschik has led the Orchestra in several programs and often performed as soloist, most recently earlier this month in Beethoven's Two Romances for Violin and Orchestra.
Through an arrangement with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Mr. Barantschik has the exclusive use of the 1742 Guarnerius del Gesù violin once owned by the virtuoso Ferdinand David, who is believed to have played it in the world premiere of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in 1845. It was also the favorite instrument of the legendary Jascha Heifetz, who acquired it in 1922 and who bequeathed it to the Fine Arts Museums, with the stipulation that it be played only by artists worthy of the instrument and its legacy.