David Nadien, one of the last of the Golden Age violin virtuosi, has died. Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926, he studied with Alfredo Betti, Adolf Busch, Ivan Galamian and Demitrius Dounis—the latter probably influencing him most.
In 1946 Nadien won the coveted Leventritt Award, a highly prestigious international competition for classical pianists and violinists, which helped to launch his career. His playing was much admired by Arturo Toscanini and Georges Szell, among many other illustrious figures in the music world.
Eventually David Nadien went on to become the concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein where he was often featured as a soloist with the orchestra. After many years as concertmaster, he decided to leave and was immediately engaged in the studio recording world where he thrived in New York in the ’60s and ’70s.
Nadien’s glorious sound, marvelous intonation, and tremendous sight reading abilities afforded him peerless status in that industry where contractors needed beautiful playing without wasting expensive recording time. Exquisite violin solos of his may be heard on the soundtracks of famous movies such as Serpico and in numerous excerpts from TV and radio.
Yet the serious artist and incredibly sensitive musician in him always remained to the core. In a most beautiful and natural way, his love of Kreisler and Heifetz before him allowed the violinist to be influenced but, at the same time, develop his own musical fingerprint, and a magical one it was.
The concert scene with its PR hazards, unfair colleagues ready to do political sabotage, and an often unknowledgeable public at large was not conducive to helping this rare artist to a career commensurate with his deserved stature. In this age of digital dexterity, politically correct and cerebral renditions, period playing practices, and 12 tone premieres, Nadien’s superior art stood out like a blazing meteor among contemporaries.
Thankfully in recent years the recording label Cembal d’amour has taken a great interest in David Nadien and issued many of his live performance recordings. With the advent of YouTube, Nadien’s reputation has deservedly reached cult status.
David Nadien is survived by his wife of many years Margot Nadien.
Eric Shumsky is an American concert violist, chamber musician, and conductor.