Conductor Samuel Friedmann is among the musicians demonstrating the continuing vitality of the pure Russian school of orchestral music-making. Born in the Soviet city of Kharkov (now Kharkiv, Ukraine) in 1940, he started out as a violinist and graduated from the Kharkov Conservatory in 1964 as a violin major. Then he switched to conducting, earning a degree in that field in 1966 from the prestigious Leningrad Conservatory. Friedmann began to ascend the ranks of the Soviet Union's regional ensembles, serving as permanent conductor of the Irkutsk Philharmonic from 1967 to 1970 and also working with the Kazakhstan Orchestra. In 1973 he emigrated to Israel and quickly became principal conductor of the Haifa Symphony Orchestra. From that point his career became both international and varied. He toured the U.S. with the Israel Chamber Orchestra and over the next two decades was a reliable presence in the western European concert scene. He held fixed posts with Germany's Württembergische Philharmonie (1979-1983) and Switzerland's St. Gallen Opera House (1983-1989), appearing as a guest with other major orchestras including London's New Philharmonia and BBC Symphony Orchestra, as well as the orchestras of the Italian Radio in Naples, Florence, Turin, and Rome. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Friedmann was able to work in Russia once again and to focus on the Russian music that was at the heart of his repertory. His recording career blossomed: as conductor of Moscow's all-star Russian Philharmonic Orchestra and of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Nizhny Novgorod, among other groups, he released more than 30 discs in the 1990s and early 2000s, many of them on the Arte Nova label. His recording of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1 with the latter group attracted strong praise from Jerry Dubins of Fanfare, who reported "narrowly escaping having my eyes pecked out and my flesh ripped from its sinews" by Friedmann's energetic performance. Friedmann recorded all of Tchaikovsky's symphonies as well as orchestral music by Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Borodin, and Kalinnikov. Among the non-Russian composers he conducted on recordings were Joachim Raff and Irish-French composer Augusta Holmès (1847-1903).
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