Biography of a Jewish girl who transcended poverty and prejudice to become an illustrious violin virtuoso.
Flautist Wolf (Musical Gifts or How a Maine Fishing Village Became a Center for Great Music, 2011, etc.), co-founder of Bay Chamber Concerts and former executive director of the New England Foundation for the Arts, grew up hearing tales about his famous grandmother, Lea Luboshutz (1885-1965). Those tales—some incomplete, some contradicted by other family members’ versions of events—piqued the author’s curiosity. Urged by his mother to “tell the story,” he mined boxes of letters and clippings, archival documents, diaries, memoirs, and histories to convey, in a sensitive, perceptive biography, the improbable truth about Luboshutz and her emergence from a tumultuous world. She grew up in Odessa, where Jews were forced to live. Her father, certain that she was a musical prodigy, began violin lessons when she was 4; at the age of 5, she was performing for neighbors and at school. At 8, she won a scholarship for private lessons with a prominent teacher; at 14, she entered the Moscow Conservatory, invited by an influential musician who heard her play in Odessa. Luboshutz’s career, Wolf discovered, was punctuated by “amazing good fortune” in the form of generous patrons who provided money and support, not only to her, but also family members. Among them, none was as significant as Onissim Goldovsky, a brilliant pianist, lawyer, and writer, “a true Renaissance man” who, at the time he met 18-year-old Luboshutz, was 38 and married. She admitted being mesmerized by Goldovsky, and by 1906, she was pregnant with his child. Thereafter, the couple lived together for extended periods and had two more children, while Goldovsky continued to maintain “another domestic reality” with his unsuspecting wife. A scandalous personal life, Russia’s roiling political upheavals, and virulent anti-Semitism did not hinder Luboshutz’s career: Celebrated wherever she performed, she came to the attention of impresario Sol Hurok and immigrated to the U.S. in 1927, where her reputation soared.
A captivating story of passion and music.