I was born into a Jewish family in Vilna (Vilnius), Lithuania when it was still a part of Tsarist Russia. My dad was a local music teacher and it must be said that he recognized by musical talent early on. I was a child prodigy and by my early teens I had already performed throughout much of Europe.
In the early stages of the Russian Revolution my family boarded the Trans-Siberian Railroad for points east. Our journey was long and arduous but we eventually reached the west coast of the U.S. and there boarded another long, long, train ride bound for N.Y.C.
I performed at Carnegie Hall while still a teen and though I didn’t know it then, I was to continue performing there for the next 60+ years! Eventually I had to give up performing and recording because of a shoulder operation and arthritis, but what a run I had! Later in life I became a musical instructor.
Two weeks after my debut at Carnegie Hall I went to Camden, NJ to make my first American recording. I was to stay with that same record label for most of my long recording career. I felt comfortable playing with the most prestigious orchestras in the world and also felt right at home while playing chamber music. My performances took me to India, China, Japan, British mandated Palestine and later on to Israel, and throughout Europe and North and South America. Heck, during the 1946-1947 season I even performed at the Paterson Y!!
I was generous with my time and for causes I believed it. I helped the U.S. Government raise money in WWI, played charity benefits for The Met, performed for allied troops in WWII, helped sell war bonds, raised money for the Red Cross, British War Relief, the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund and others.
I was a union man. I was a founding member of the American Guild of Musical Artists and a member of the American Federation of Radio artists. I advocated for clean air and a clean environment.
You surely know me by now. That’s my photo below. (1)Who am I? (2)What was my main recording label? (3)What song did George Gershwin honor me with? (4)Name at least 2 of my long-time accompanists. (5)In what Hollywood movie did I play myself? (6)I enjoyed a lot of leisurely pursuits. Name at least 2 of them.