Concertmaster, professor, and violinist, Israel Baker has successfully glided between the genres of classical, jazz, and pop, for decades.
Born and raised in Chicago, he studied at the Conservatory there and purportedly made his debut with the orchestra at age six. He continued his studies at Julliard under Jacques Gorden, Bronislaw Huberman, and Louis Persinger. He became friends and collaborated frequently with Jascha Heifetz, whom he didn’t mind playing second fiddle to. He made his New York debut along with Yehudi Menuhin in 1951.
Most of Baker’s success came in Los Angeles, where he served as concertmaster for the Columbia Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra, as well as on films such as The Amityville Horror. He also played violin on the soundtracks to Ben-Hur, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Love At First Bite, The Man with the Golden Arm, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, and Stripes. He also played violin and wrote music for The Cricket in Times Square and A Very Merry Cricket, working alongside Warner Brothers legends Mel Blanc and Chuck Jones.
His discography is a who’s-who of country, jazz and pop, including collaborations with Air Supply, Ann-Margret, Chet Atkins, Bobby Bare, Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Stanley Clarke, Rosemary Clooney, Joe Cocker, Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, Count Basie, Bobby Darin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Neil Diamond , Celine Dion, Percy Faith , Maynard Ferguson, Ella Fitzgerald, David Foster, Connie Francis, Judy Garland, Russ Giguere, Joao Gilberto, Leslie Gore, Bill Haley, Carole King, Barry Manilow, Dean Martin, Richard Marx, Sergio Mendes, Ricky Nelson, Willie Nelson, Michael Nesmith, The Platters, Louis Prima, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Teena Marie, Mel Torme , Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson, and Neil Young.
In 1997, The Israel Baker String Quartet appeared alongside The Mark Davidson Trio on The Songs of Lennon & McCartney.
In addition to teaching music at Scripps College in Califoria, Israel Baker also served on the adjudication panel for The Satori Strings Contest. An acclaimed classical violinist, he also appeared on a variety of classical albums, most notably with Bruno Walter and his Stravinsky series. An amazon link with some of his classical recordings is included below.
After having had a stroke he passed away at home in Studio City, California, on Christmas Day 2011. He was 92 years old.
Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams recordings
Emotions (Barry Gibb/Robin Gibb) S CBS 6164B (UK 45)
Here is performing Bill Mark’s “Concerto for Violin and Piano” which was written for him..