After 45 years of teaching at the Eastman School of Music, Zvi Zeitlin, 90, an iconic violinist who has dedicated his life to teaching and performing, gave his final recital prior to retiring on Sunday, Feb. 19. He performed in Eastman’s Kilbourn Hall with fellow Eastman faculty member Barry Snyder on the piano and a quartet of Eastman student musicians.
Zeitlin’s storied career began at a young age — he became the youngest scholarship student in the history of the Juilliard School at only 11 years old.
He would later perform with some of the most famous orchestras in the world, under conductors such as Leonard Berntein, Zubin Mehta, Christoph von Dohnanyi, James Levine, Pierre Boulez and many others.
Zeitlin was invited to join the Eastman faculty in 1967 by the school’s director, Walter Hendl, with whom Zeitlin had performed. Zeitlin was named Eastman’s first Kilbourn Professor in 1974 and Distinguished Professor of Violin in 1998.
He also received Eastman’s Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2004.
In addition to teaching annual master classes, Zeitlin has taught in Japan, Korea, China, Israel, Germany, Norway and throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Former student of Zeitlin and current San Diego Symphony Concertmaster Jeff Thayer ’98 credits Zeitlin with much of his success as a musician.
“I consider him to be responsible, in great part, for who I am today as a musician and human being,” Thayer said. “I cannot imagine getting the kind of dedication that he gave to me and to his other students from many other people.”
Thayer added that Zeitlin is “one of the great artists of his generation.”
Dean of the Eastman School Douglas Lowry had similar praise for Zeitlin.
“He has exemplified the highest standards of artistry and teaching,” Lowry said. “His deep knowledge of violin playing has been informed by not only his insightful powers of observation and musicianship, but by his being a force in these evolving traditions.”
Buletti is a member of the class of 2013.