Genre-spanning violinist Ivry Gitlis dies at 98

Ivry Gitlis violinist dies at 98

Ivry Gitlis, an acclaimed violinist who played with famed conductors, rock stars and jazz bands around the world and worked to make classical music accessible to the masses, has died in Paris at the age of 98.

France’s culture minister announced his death, hailing him as “a magnificent performer, a generous musician” who dedicated his life “to serving all kinds of music”.

The cause of death and plans for funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

Recognisable in recent decades by his long white hair and distinctive caps and scarves, Gitlis began playing in the 1920s and performed into the 2010s.

The Paris Philharmonic celebrated “one of the longest and most prolific careers in the history of music”.

Gitlis was born in Haifa in 1922, and sent to the Paris Conservatory at the age of 10 under the guidance of violinist Bronislaw Huberman, the ministry said.

He continued training in Europe and the US, where he performed with leading conductors starting in the 1950s.

Gitlis performed with the Rolling Stones and jazz stars, appeared on French television shows and founded a music festival in the 1970s where listeners ate and slept in a field while listening to music.

Among his many worldwide appearances, Gitlis was the first Israeli musician to perform in Soviet Russia, in 1963, according to Le Monde.

He held charity concerts in Japan after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami while many other performers cancelled shows, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported, and played a violin made out of wooden debris from the disaster.

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