In Memoriam: Emanuel Borok
Distinguished Artist-in-Residence in Violin 1944-2020
The Meadows School is sad to announce that beloved violin professor and distinguished artist-in-residence Emanuel Borok passed away on January 4 at the age of 75 following a long battle with lung cancer.
Borok had an acclaimed career as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral leader. He served as concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra from 1985 until his retirement in 2010. Prior to that, he served for 11 seasons as associate concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and concertmaster of the Boston Pops Orchestra.
He taught at Boston University from 1976 to 1985 and at the University of North Texas from 2006 to 2013. He then joined SMU Meadows School of the Arts as Distinguished Artist-in-Residence in 2013, where he conducted private study for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students while performing, presenting master classes and adjudicating competitions.
“Emanuel Borok was a consummate artist who played with a timeless elegance and refinement that few could match,” said Samuel S. Holland, dean of the Meadows School. “His legato was pure silk and it was often in the quietest moments that his tone was the most ravishing. His 2019 release of Beethoven’s complete sonatas for violin and piano (with Alexander Kobrin), recorded in Caruth Auditorium, is a monumental achievement—one that deserves to become a standard. Of course, his years as the concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra are the stuff of legends. He delighted in teaching and regularly recruited a class of highly talented young violinists from all over the world to the Meadows School. Alongside the community, the School mourns his loss as the end of an era.”
Born July 15, 1944, in the former Soviet Union, Borok received his early musical instruction at the renowned Darzinya Music School in Riga, Latvia, and earned a master’s degree in violin/teaching at the Gnessin School of Music in Moscow. In 1964 he became prizewinner of the most important national violin competition in the Soviet Union. In 1971, he won the position of co-concertmaster in the Moscow Philharmonic.
After emigrating to the West in 1973, Borok made many solo appearances in Israel, Canada, France, Italy, Norway, Germany, Venezuela, Mexico, Switzerland, Holland and throughout the United States (including Carnegie Hall). His solo appearances included the Bach Double Concerto with Yehudi Menuhin, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with Pinchas Zukerman and Brahms’ Double Concerto with Janos Starker. He made numerous concerto and chamber music appearances at notable festivals such as the La Jolla Festival of the Arts in La Jolla, Calif.; Montecito International Music Festival, Montecito, Calif.; Summit Music Festival in Purchase, N.Y.; Settimane Musicale Senese in Siena, Italy; and Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona, Italy, among others. His chamber music partners included such distinguished artists as Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Shlomo Mintz, Lynn Harrell, Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Christopher Hogwood, Joshua Bell, Ralph Kirshbaum, Cho-Liang Lin, Sarah Chang and Paul Neubauer as well as Berlin Philharmonic principals Hansjorg Schellenberger and Daniel Damiano. Borok was also featured in the Distinguished Artists Recital Series at the 92nd Street Y in New York.
In 1999, Borok was part of the Grammy-nominated CD Voces Americanas with Dallas-based new music ensemble Voices of Change. He also recorded the Shostakovich Violin Sonata with Tatiana Yampolsky (which received a four-star rating from the Penguin Cassette Guide), the solo part of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with musicians from the Boston Symphony (named “Best of the Month” by Stereo Review magazine), and Beethoven’s Archduke Trio with pianist Claude Frank and cellist Leslie Parnas (honored by Ovation magazine as the record of the year).
Borok’s most recent recordings included A Road Less Traveled and Songs for a Lonely Heart, with seldom-performed concertos by Joseph Haydn and romantic pieces for violin, released to critical acclaim on the Eroica label. He also published a book of original cadenzas for all five Mozart Violin Concertos with Theodore Presser Co.
In addition to his highly active performing life, Borok established himself as an internationally recognized teacher, having taught at the Tanglewood Music Center; Academia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy; Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, Switzerland; Royal Conservatory and Academy of Music in London; Conservatoire de Paris; Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Moscow; Academy of Music in Prague; and Verbier Festival in Switzerland.
Borok’s violin was a 400-year-old Brothers Amati violin, made in 1608 in Cremona, Italy, home to such famous violin makers as Amati, Guarneri and Stradivarius. In 2009, on the occasion of the violin’s 400th “birthday,” Borok traveled with his violin to Cremona and presented a concert for the people of the city, all of which was captured in the documentary A Cremona con Amore, available on Amazon.com. In June 2010 Borok was invited to perform at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam with the Radio Philharmonic orchestra during the Holland Festival under the direction of Jaap van Zweden. The occasion featured a violin concerto written by Alexander Raskatov and dedicated to Borok’s Amati violin.
Borok is survived by his wife, Marilyn Roark, and his children, Sarah Borok and Mark Borok. A memorial service is pending.