Alexander Barantschik began his tenure as San Francisco Symphony Concertmaster in September 2001 and holds the Naoum Blinder Chair. Former concertmaster of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra in Germany, London Symphony Orchestra, and Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, he has also been an active soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe. He has collaborated in chamber music with André Previn, Antonio Pappano, and Mstislav Rostropovich. As leader of the LSO, Mr. Barantschik toured Europe, Japan, and the United States; performed as soloist; and served as concertmaster for major symphonic cycles with Michael Tilson Thomas, Rostropovich, and Bernard Haitink. He was also concertmaster for Pierre Boulez’s year-long, three-continent seventy-fifth birthday celebration.
Born in Russia, Mr. Barantschik attended the Saint Petersburg Conservatory and went on to perform with the major Russian orchestras, including the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic. His awards include first prize in the International Violin Competition in Sion, Switzerland, and in the Russian National Violin Competition. Since joining the San Francisco Symphony, Mr. Barantschik has led the Orchestra in several programs and appeared as soloist in concertos and other works by Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Beethoven, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Walton, Piazzolla, and Schnittke, among others. Mr. Barantschik is a member of the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he teaches graduate students from around the world in a special concertmaster program. 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 E-minor 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.