Ivry Gitlis

Israeli Violinist : Ivry Gitlis

Ivry Gitlis was born in Haifa, Yitzhak-Meir (Isaac) Gitlis, born in Haifa, Palestine Mandate, to Jewish parents, emigrated in 1921 from Kamianets-Podilskyi, Russia, now Ukraine on 25th August, 1922. He is an Israeli violinist and Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO. Ivry has performed with the world’s top orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ivry started playing when he was just 5. He started his lessons under Mme Velikovsky together with his friend Zvi Zeitin. He then studied under the close supervision of Mira Ben Ami, who was his private teacher. Attaining the age of 8, she managed for him to play for Bornislaw Huberman, which prompted a fundraising that helped him to study in France. On arriving with his mother in the year 1933 to Paris, he began to take lessons with Marcel Chailley, husband of the pianist Céliny Chailley-Richez. As he became close to their family, he was then introduced to George Enescu and Jacques Thibaud.

Afterwards, he decided to change his name to Ivry from Isaac. He won a Premier Prix in 1935, participating in the Conservatoire de Paris in the class of Jules Boucherit. His teacher in 1951, Alice Pashkus suggested him to take part in at the long- Thinbaud Competition in Paris, where he grabbed fifth place. He then made his debut in Paris, playing at a recital at the ‘Salle Gaveau’, sponsored by the music manager Marcel de Valmalète.

Ivry met Jascha Heifetz in the 50s, after moving to the United States. Between 1953 and 1955, he recorded a Vox label concertos by Berg, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, Stravinsky. In 1963, he became the first Israeli violinist to play in the Soviet Union. After giving a series of concerts under the cultural exchange program in Soviet Union, he moved on for performing in Europe, Leningard, Kiev and Odessa. In 1968, he participated in John Lennon’s project, The Dirty Mac, in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus film project.

his playing of the violin and the sound he produces has fascinated many composers, among whom Rene Leibowitz who dedicated the “Violin Concerto Op.50” to him; Bruno Maderna writing “Pièce pour Ivry”. Ivry founded the Festival de Vence, famous for its innovative programming.

In order to make classical music accessible to all, he became the patron of the Paris-based Association “inspiration(s)” in 2008.

“… don’t be so polite with the music, it’s like being in love!”