Michael Rabin (violinist)

Michael Rabin (May 2, 1936 – January 19, 1972) was an American virtuoso violinist whose fame has continued despite his death at the age of 35.

Michael Rabin was of Romanian-Jewish descent. His mother Jeanne was a Juilliard-trained pianist, and his father George was a violinist in the New York Philharmonic. He began to learn the violin when he was seven, his talent being fostered by his parents. A lesson with Jascha Heifetz was arranged and the master advised him to study with Ivan Galamian, who said he had "no weaknesses, never." He began studies with Galamian in New York and at the Meadowmount School of Music and the Juilliard School, and went on to appear with a number of American orchestras before his Carnegie Hall debut on 29 November 1951 in the Paganini D major Concerto, with Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting the New York Philharmonic. He was aged only 15. (He had also appeared at Carnegie Hall in January 1950, when aged only 13, as soloist with the National Orchestral Association, under the direction of Léon Barzin.)

He first appeared in London on 13 December 1954, still aged only 18, playing the Tchaikovsky Concerto in D at the Royal Albert Hall with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Michael Rabin recorded concertos by Mendelssohn, Glazunov, Paganini (No. 1 in D major; 2 recordings), Wieniawski (No. 1 in F-sharp minor, No. 2 in D minor), and Tchaikovsky, as well as Bruch's Scottish Fantasy and the Paganini Caprices for solo violin. He recorded the Bach Sonata in C major for solo violin and the Third and Fourth sonatas for solo violin by Eugène Ysaÿe, as well as virtuoso pieces, including an album with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

Rabin played in a bel canto style. He performed for many years on the "Kubelik" Guarnerius del Gesu of 1735. He toured widely, playing in all the major cities of the U.S., Europe, South America and Australia. He even appeared on a 1951 episode of the variety television series "Texaco Star Theatre". During a recital in Carnegie Hall, he suddenly fell forward and momentarily lost his balance, and this was the beginning of a neurological condition which was to affect his career adversely. He died prematurely at the age of 35 from a head injury sustained in a fall at his New York apartment.


  • Michael Rabin: America's Virtuoso Violinist, by Anthony Feinstein
  • Played the violin solos in the 1954 MGM film 'Rhapsody' starring Elizabeth Taylor
  • CD program notes, Paganini Caprices Op. 1 for unaccompanied violin, Michael Rabin, EMI Classics

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