- CA ON00349 2017.05
The rare public figure to be named both a Member of the Order of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters in France, Juno Award-nominated musician Jacques Israelievitch left an indelible impression on the music scene, both within and beyond the borders of Toronto. Perhaps best known for his two decades serving as concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra – the longest tenure for that position in the organization’s history, running from 1988 to 2008 – Israelievitch also head significant conducting roles with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (assistant concertmaster, 1972-1978) and St. Louis Symphony (concertmaster, 1978-1988). Joining the former at the age of 23, he was the youngest member in the company’s history.
Israelievitch was a prolific artist, performing on more than 100 recordings and working with a number of distinguished artists, including Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, and Yo-Yo Ma. Perhaps one of his most special musical partnerships was his son Michael, a percussionist with whom Jacques combined to form the Israelievitch Duo. In this pairing of generations, one might ascertain a sense of the joy that the elder Israelievitch received from translating his personal skill to the world of teaching. Within the Toronto context, he held faculty positions at University of Toronto, York University, and the Royal Conservatory of Music. He also led master classes at numerous institutions, including McGill University, University of California - Los Angeles, and University of Michigan. Never one to rest on his laurels, he also spent 16 summers teaching at New York’s Chautauqua Institution.
Around the time of his retirement in 2008, Israelievitch was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the Toronto Musicians Associations, marking his distinguished career. True to form, he was creating right up until his 2015 death, at which time he was completing a final project, a comprehensive recording of the Mozart Sonatas and Variations. His legacy lives on through the Jacques Israelievitch Endowment for Violin/Viola and Interdisciplinary Arts, established posthumously by York University.