Violinist from Russia who emigrated to the U.S. while very young. He attended the Paris Conservatory of Music on the strength of a scholarship and in 1924 won the esteemed first prize awarded for music. He went on to attend and graduate from Juilliard.
At the age of 17, he performed in concert at Aeolian Hall in New York. He later went on to become the assistant/associate concertmaster with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Arturo Toscanini, and occupied the first violin chair of WQXR’s string quartet for a quarter of a century. In addition to this, he found time to serve the Brooklyn Philharmonic in the capacity of concertmaster and was a violinist with the Hofstra Quartet for over a decade and a half.
On 29th April 1941, he premiered Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57” in the U.S. as a member of the Stuyvesant Quartet. He was also an arranger and there is still sheet music available online dating from about 1945 of his transcription of Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Three Fantastic Dances, Op. 5” for piano and violin. He was also a member of the New Friends of Rhythm and there is an album available of their 1939-1947 Performances.
As his career evolved, he became busier and busier in the recording studios. Some of the recordings he appeared on the 1950s include Harry Belafonte’s “Man Piaba” and Perry Como’s “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You”. He also got some steady work on television’s Your Show of Shows.
In the 1960s, he worked with jazz artists such as Tony Bennett, Paul Desmond, Stan Getz, J.J. Johnson, Wes Montgomery, Walter Wanderley, and Kai Winding. In the 1970s, he appeared on more experimental fare such as Deodato’s Whirlwinds and Alice Coltrane’s Reflection on Creation and Space. Other artists with whom he worked include Patti Austin, George Benson, Frederick Fennell , Rupert Holmes, Bob James, Eartha Kitt, Lotte Lenya, Stevie Nicks, Ray Peterson, Johnnie Ray, Neil Sedaka, Frank Sinatra , Stanley Turrentine, Phil Upchurch, Harold Vick, and Grover Washington, Jr .
A beloved musician and teacher, Harry passed away on 6th October 1996 at Manhattan’s Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged when he was 86 years old. His music lives on, however, on CDs such as The Best of Patti Austin, The Essential Harry Belafonte, Getz for Lovers, Restoration: The Best of Bob James, and Grover Washington, Jr.’s Ultimate Collection.
Frank Sinatra recordings
That’s What God Looks Like To Me (Stan Irvin/Lan O’Kun)
Reprise RPS 49233 (XNY2101S) (US 45)
Theme from “New York, New York” (Fred Ebb/John Kander)
Reprise RPS49233 (XNY 2103 S) (US 45)
He performs on violin here on Wes Montgomery’s cover of “A Day in the Life”….