The Viola in My Life: An Alto Rhapsody
As a member of the Kohon, Composers, Fine Arts, Vermeer, and Stanford String Quartets,as well as the Zaslav Duo, Bernard Zaslav has recorded 114 chamber works for the Teldec, Orfeo, Columbia, Nonesuch, Everest, Laurel, Gasparo, Orion, Vox, CRI and Music & Arts labels.
Mr. Zaslav, a New York City native, was a violin pupil of Sascha Jacobsen and Mischa Mischakoff at the Juilliard School of Music and later a viola student of Lillian Fuchs at Yale Summer School. He became a youthful member of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell in 1948 for two seasons and then returned to New York as a member of that city's famed corps of "free lancers". Here he played first-chair with many of New York's finest chamber groups and symphony orchestras, including the Symphony of the Air, and under such conductors as Stokowski, Bernstein, Stravinsky, Wallenstein, Scherchen, Barzin, and many others.
He joined the Kohon String Quartet in residence at New York University, and recorded the complete quartets of Brahms, Schumann, Dvorak, Ives, etc. for Vox Records. Their recording of the String Quartet Op.3 of Alban Berg was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque for Chamber Music in 1964, Charles Cros Societe, Paris.
As an advocate for new music, Mr. Zaslav was a founding member of the Composers Quartet, created by Gunther Schuller for performance and recording works of American composers such as Elliot Carter, Milton Babbitt, Gunther Schuller, Ralph Shapey, Ben Johnston, Ruth Crawford-Seegar, Roger Sessions, Ursula Mamlok, Henry Weinberg, Billy Jim Layton, and others.
In 1968 he was invited to join the renowned Fine Arts Quartet, in residence at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He performed with them worldwide in concert, radio, and television and recorded a large portion of the entire quartet repertory. In addition, the Fine Arts commissioned and recorded new works by Charles Wuorinen, Milton Babbitt, Ben Johnston, Seymour Shifrin, Andrew Imbrie, Samuel Adler, John Downey, and Karel Husa, whose 3rd String Quartet received the Pulitzer Prize for Chamber Music in 1969. As a member of the Fine Arts Quartet, Zaslav attained the rank of Distinguished Professor at UW-M, an Honorary Doctorate from Northland College, Wisconsin, and the Lincoln Award of Chicago for Public Service in the Arts.
After 12 Years with the Fine Arts Quartet, Zaslav was invited to join the Vermeer Quartet as Professor at Northern Illinois University . He toured extensively with this acclaimed group, recording Schubert, Dvorak, Verdi, Brahms, and late Beethoven quartets for Teldec Records. In 1985 he joined the faculty of Stanford University as violist of the newly-formed Stanford String Quartet. With them he recorded quartets of Darius Milhaud, Frank Bridge, and Gabriel Faure for the Music & Arts label and works by Ben Johnston, William Bolcom, and Mark Neikrug for Laurel Records.
Since their Carnegie Recital Hall debut in 1962, Bernard and Naomi Zaslav, performing as the Zaslav Duo, have attained a high level of recognition for their concerts and recordings of the viola/piano repertory. Their five CDs for the Music & Arts Programs of America label include Mr. Zaslav's own transcription of the Franck A major Violin Sonata and an entire album of the music of Dvorák, containing works originally written for violin, cello, or voice with piano. The Duo have also performed many contemporary works, some written especially for them. Recordings by the Duo have received critical acclaim from Stereo Review ("Recording of Special Merit"), Devoteé magazine ("Debut Recording-Artist of the Year"), The STRAD, The New Records, The Los Angeles Times, American Record Guide, and Fanfare.
The Zaslav Duo has given recitals in New York at The New School for Social Research, the Donnell Library, La Maison Francaise of New York University, the Village Gate, Brooklyn College, Carnegie Recital Hall, and Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. They have also performed at the Phillips Gallery in Washington, D.C., the June Music Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, UC-Davis, Stanford University, the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California and at American Viola Congresses in Toronto, Canada and Redlands, California. They have recorded for Radio Freies, Berlin, Germany, WFMT, Chicago, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and for CRI and the Music & Arts Programs of America label.
In 1993 Mr. Zaslav became a Resident Artist at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University, where he used digital recording and editing techniques learned there to produce the latest series of CDs.by the Zaslav Duo.
Mr. Zaslav's viola was made by J.B. Guadagnini in 1781 in Turin, Italy and is described as the "ex-Villa" in books by Ernest Doring and Maurice Riley. It is one of only nine violas attributed to this great master and remains in an excellent state of preservation.