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Biography

Henryk Szeryng (September 22, 1918 – March 8, 1988) was a Polish violinist of Jewish heritage.

He was born in Żelazowa Wola in Poland and studied there and with Carl Flesch in Berlin. He made his solo debut in 1933 playing the Johannes Brahms Violin Concerto. From 1933 to 1939 he studied composition in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, and during World War II he worked as an interpreter for the Polish government in exile (Szeryng was fluent in seven languages) and gave concerts for the Allied troops all over the world. During one of these concerts in Mexico City he received an offer to take over the string department of the university there. He accepted the offer and became a Mexican citizen in 1946.

Szeryng subsequently focused on teaching before resuming his concert career in 1954. His debut in New York City brought him great acclaim, and he toured widely for the rest of his life. He died in Kassel. His approach to music is acknowledged to be always thoughtful, unpretentious and full of respect for the composer. His musical testament is part of the era of the greatest violinists of the 20th century.

Szeryng made a number of recordings, including two of the complete sonatas and partitas for violin by Johann Sebastian Bach, and several of Sonatas of Beethoven and Brahms with the pianist Arthur Rubinstein. He also composed; his works include a number of violin concertos and pieces of chamber music.

He owned the Del Gesu "Le Duc" and the Stradivarius "King David". The former was the instrument on which he performed and recorded mostly, while the latter was donated to the State of Israel.

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