Paul Makanowitzky: From prodigy to pedagogue


Swedish-born violinist Paul Makanowitzky ultimately helped create the American school of violin playing. David Hays explores his life and multifaceted career

Violinist Paul Makanowitzky may be best remembered today as Ivan Galamian’s teaching assistant at the Juilliard School and at the Meadowmount School of Music during the 1960s and 70s, but he deserves better recognition for his significant career as a soloist, recording artist, conductor and teacher in his own right. Importantly, he trained a number of soloists, chamber musicians and professors in a way that extended the legacy of Galamian’s school of violin playing and subsequently helped shape what would become the American school.

Born in Sweden in 1920 to Russian parents, Makanowitzky soon moved to Paris, where he was to become the first star pupil of the young Galamian – who would put the four-year-old boy up on a table so that he could work with him more easily. By early 1930, Makanowitzky had performed recitals to glowing reviews. Dany Brunschwig wrote after a private performance in December 1929: ‘We have found in him the stuff of a great violinist… The authority and finish of his playing, the intelligence and sensitivity of his interpretations, permit one to envisage for him the highest musical destiny’ (Le monde musical,  1 January 1930).


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