Julius Schulman:
Life with a Violin

Windows Media Video File: Julius Schulman Violin Hero: In Recital from San Antonio

Career Highlights:
  • Featured Soloist, Concertmaster, WOR Mutual Network Symphony Orchestra
  • Solo Recording Artist for Muzak
  • Performer on Live Like A Millionaire
  • Winner on Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts
  • Pardessus de Viole, Renaissance Quintet
  • Soloist, Concertmaster, Curtis Symphony Orchestra
  • Soloist, Concertmaster, New Orleans Symphony
  • Soloist, Concertmaster, Little Orchestra Society
  • Soloist, Concertmaster, Asst. Concertmaster, Member, Boston Pops Orchestra
  • Soloist, Concertmaster, Asst. Concertmaster, Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra
  • Soloist, Concertmaster, San Antonio Symphony
  • Soloist, Concertmaster, Asst. Concertmaster Chautauqua Festival
  • Concertmaster, Harvard Chamber Orchestra
  • Soloist, First Violin, Lester Lanin Orchestra
  • First Violin, Pittsburgh String Quartet
  • First Violin, (New Orleans) Symphony String Quartet
  • First Violin, Stockbridge String Quartet
  • First Violin, Chautauqua String Quartet
  • Associate Concertmaster, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
  • Soloist, Assistant Concertmaster, Pittsburgh Symphony
  • Soloist, Member, Philadelphia Orchestra
  • Soloist, Member, Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • Member, All American Youth Orchestra
  • Toured with New York Philharmonic, New York Ballet
  • Visiting Concertmaster, Houston Opera & Houston Ballet

YouTube Channel:
Julius Schulman Violin Hero

Julius Schulman, one of the twentieth century's most distinguished violinists, was born October 1st, 1915, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, the fifth child of Russian-Jewish immigrants Abraham and Anna (Rosen) Schulman, becoming interested in the violin at age five, and began studying at the Malkin Conservatory in Manhattan with Jacques Malkin.

At age eight his career premiered with a bravura performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto at Carnegie Hall. He was often seen roller-skating to his lessons, carrying his violin. The prodigy's violin studies continued at the Juilliard School of Music with Edouard Dethier while he attended classes at New Utrecht High School and New York University. During this period he doubled on saxophone, playing swing with big bands and on ocean cruises.

In 1934 and 1935 he played the pardessus de Viole in the Renaissance Quintet, an ancient instruments ensemble, with Jacques Malkin playing viole d'Amour.

Renaissance Quintet

Photo Caption: The Renaissance Quintet
(Julius Schulman, left)

He won a violin full scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he studied with the world-renowned virtuoso, Efrem Zimbalist, Sr., and concertized widely while a student, including solo performances on The Curtis Institute of Music Radio Programme. He was soloist for and concertmaster of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and toured to South America as a violinist with the All American Youth Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski. Upon graduation from Curtis in 1937, because of family financial burdens caused by the Great Depression, he declined Efrem Zimbalist's offer to arrange a solo touring concert career and instead accepted a position as the youngest member of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Stokowski, during the time that the orchestra recorded the soundtrack for Walt Disney's Fantasia. He continued solo performances while remaining a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy.

He performed two recitals at Town Hall, New York, his debut in March, 1942, and a return in December, 1943. At his second Town Hall recital Schulman premiered Gothic Variations for Violin and Orchestra by American composer, Charles Haubiel, with the composer performing the orchestral part at the piano. The two also performed the composition for the National Association for Composers and Conductors and later recorded the first release of the composition.

Olin Downes, the chief music critic of The New York Times, wrote of this second Town Hall recital in 1943, "It has been seldom of late that we have heard such accomplished playing of the violin." Reviews of his many solo recitals during this period included Max de Schauensee of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin who wrote in October, 1943, that Schulman is "a violinist of the first order" with "a sweeping virtuosity reminiscent of the great Jascha Heifetz" and the New York Herald-Tribune's reference to Schulman's "amazingly expert performance." Once again, an offer of a solo tour from his management, Arthur Judson of Columbia Artists, was declined because of family financial obligations. But throughout World War Two, Schulman continued to concertize widely, including many performances for the U.S.O., for wounded veterans, and for war-bond and war-stamp concerts.

In 1944, he accepted the position of assistant concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Fritz Reiner, where he was featured six times as a soloist with the orchestra, in perfomances of the Tchaikovsky and Paganini 1st violin concertoes. Schulman gained wide note for his performance of the Paganini concerto in Paganini's original key of E flat, and his original cadenza for it in which the violin bow was taken apart in 25 seconds, the hair was placed over the strings and the stick under the violin, "producing the sound of four violins." While guest-conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Minneapolis Orchestra's conductor, Dimitri Mitropoulos, praised Schulman as "an outstanding and brilliant artist." Schulman was also First Violin of the Pittsburgh String Quartet during this period.

Julius Schulman continued concertizing widely both in concert halls and on radio, and was featured as a soloist on WQXR New York's Treasury of Music" series.

Young BettyIn 1944 he married his sweetheart Betty from Sea Gate, New York, a marriage which lasted until his death.

Schulman remained in Pittsburgh until 1947, when he returned to New York as concertmaster and featured violin soloist of the WOR Mutual Network Symphony Orchestra under Sylvan Levin and Emerson Buckley, which at the time enjoyed a greater listenership than the rival NBC Symphony Orchestra under Toscanini. Because of his frequent solo performances with the Mutual Network Symphony Orchestra, Julius Schulman became one of the most renowned violinists in the United States.

In 1947 his daughter, Margaret, was born, and in 1953 his son Joseph Neil was born.

Photo Caption: Betty Schulman

Julius Schulman remained as soloist and concertmaster with the Mutual Network Symphony Orchestra through the beginning of its television performances, until a prolonged musician's strike in 1954 caused the Mutual Network to disband its live orchestra in favor of playing recorded music.

YouTube Video:
In 1952, Julius Schulman performs on
Live Like A Millionaire

In 1955, Schulman won the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts competition in a live network TV broadcast, the only classical violinist ever to do so, and tying with singer Barbara McNair in the defeat of the Del Rubio Triplets. The Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts show was the highest rated television show at the time and also launched the careers of stars including Patsy Cline, Lenny Bruce, and Shari Lewis.

Following a year of free-lancing in New York City, including with Broadway orchestras and in recordings of the major violin concertos for Muzak, he was appointed concertmaster of the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra under conductor Alexander Hilsburg, who had been concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra during Schulman's tenure there.

YouTube Video:
In 1958, Julius Schulman performs the
Joseph Joachim Hungarian Violin Concerto in D Minor
with the Little Orchestra Society,
conducted by Thomas Scherman.

After two seasons, he returned to New York as concertmaster of the internationally-lauded Little Orchestra Society under conductor Thomas Scherman, where Schulman soloed extensively both nationally and internationally, including a command performance of the Beethoven Romance in F at the presidential palace in Vietnam for President Diem.

Julius Schulman behind and our left of Dmitri Shostakovich and Leonard Bernstein

He was personally invited by Leonard Bernstein to join the New York Philharmonic's landmark fall 1959 world tour to Europe, the Middle East, and the Soviet Union, a tour on which the New York Philharmonic recorded Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony, after which Schulman joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra/Boston Pops Orchestra, and only after moving to Boston did he receive an invitation from Bernstein to join the New York Philharmonic, which, just having bought a house, he declined.

Photo Caption: Dmitri Shostakovich &
Leonard Bernstein (Julius Schulman, lower left)

Schulman remained with the Boston Symphony until 1970, playing under conductors Charles Munch, Erich Leinsdorf and William Steinberg, and under Arthur Fiedler with the Boston Pops, where in several seasons he substituted as a concertmaster under Fiedler. Once when both the concertmaster and assistant concertmaster fell ill, Schulman took the concertmaster chair for several performances, including on the BSO's tour to New York, because he was the only violinist in the orchestra whom concertmaster Joseph Silverstein had confidence could sight-read difficult concertmaster solos in a modern composition.

During his tenure in Boston, in addition to performances of concertos and other solo pieces with the Boston Symphony and the Boston Pops Orchestra, and concerto solos with the Framingham Symphony Orchestra and Reading Symphony Orchestra, Schulman was concertmaster of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, and first violinist of the Stockbridge String Quartet, which was comprised of Boston Symphony members. Both Jack Benny and Red Skelton featured Schulman in comedy bits during their performances with the Boston Pops. He took a sabbatical from the Boston Symphony, at the request of Eugene Ormandy, to accompany the Philadelphia Orchestra on a tour to Japan.

In 1970 Sir Rudolph Bing personally invited Schulman to join the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as Associate Concertmaster, and from 1970 to 1975 Schulman performed the concertmaster solos in all the Metropolitan Opera's productions. He also toured to Japan with the Metropolitan Opera.

In 1975, Schulman accepted Victor Allesandro's personal request that he succeed the just-deceased John Corigliano, Sr. (former New York Philharmonic concertmaster and father of the Red Violin composer, John Corigliano) as concertmaster of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, a position which he held until his mandatory retirement in 1990, at age 75. During his tenure in San Antonio, Schulman performed violin concertos and other concert solo pieces regularly with the orchestra, in addition to concertmaster solos, string quartets, and concertos and solo pieces performed with other Texas orchestras, festivals, and performed as a soloist at San Antonio's many military bases. Both Danny Kaye and "PDQ Bach" creator Peter Schickele featured him in comedy bits during their appearances at pension fund concerts.

He performed half a dozen recitals in San Antonio and surrounding areas, including an unaccompanied recital of Bach Partitas in 1978 and two more solo recitals with pianist Andrew Mihalso in 1980 and 1982 at Trinity University, the second one of which was produced for cable television by his son. You can watch that video recital by clicking here.

Julius at weddingFor several summers, Schulman was concertmaster of the Chautauqua Festival Orchestra in upper New York State, for conductor Joseph Silverstein, who had been concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra during Schulman's tenure there, and was first violin of the Chautauqua String Quartet. Schulman also played several additional summers with the Boston Symphony at their summer home in Tanglewood in the mid 1980's.

Photo Caption: Julius Schulman, July, 1985

In 1980 he provided the solo violin performances for a Pacifica Network radio production of his son, writer J. Neil Schulman's, short story, "The Musician," and acted as musical consultant for his son's 1983 novel The Rainbow Cadenza, and his 1986 screenplay, No Strings Attached, which is included in the 1999 book Profile in Silver and Other Screenwritings.

In addition to his career as a musician, Schulman was an accomplished equestrian; an amateur hypnotist; a tennis player and swimmer; an inveterate reader of science fiction, encyclopedias, and books about African safaris; and an accomplished amateur still and motion picture photographer, whose tour movies were used by local television. He was a raconteur whose jokes and stories made him popular both with fellow musicians and audiences.

One of his stories was about the rehearsal he was doing in his hotel room at a resort in the Catskills, with a singer who was also a medium, when a poltergeist visited them, killed the electricity, locked them in the room for several minutes, blew out the candles he tried to light, and angered by his continued attempts to leave threw a dresser across his hotel room.

He was a Third Degree Mason, and a member of the National Rifle Association who held a license to carry a concealed firearm in Massachusetts, New York City, Texas, and California. He defended himself with a handgun from gangs of muggers following late-night concerts in Boston and New York on five separate occasions, wounding no one and only having to pull the trigger once. On another occasion he saw a woman being carjacked on 72nd Street and used his handgun to order the carjackers out of her car. The would-be victim sped off safely.

Beginning with his joining the Philadelphia Orchestra, and through his career in San Antonio, Julius Schulman performed on his Guarnerius violin made in 1716, and listed in the Hill of London catalog as "the Tiger Stripe." This precious violin was sold in 2005 through Morel & Gradoux-Matt, Inc., in New York City.

In 1997 Julius and Betty moved to Culver City, California.

Following an almost year-long illness, Julius Schulman died at age 84 at Brotman Hospital in Culver City at 12:12 AM, September 9, 2000, of heart failure following a diabetes-related bout of pneumonia. He is survived by his wife, Betty; his daughter, Margaret Garron, his son, Neil, and his granddaughter, Soleil.

You can listen to a RealAudio® compilation of Julius Schulman in performance by clicking here or in higher fidelity Windows Media Audio here.

The program excerpts include:

  • Paganini: Caprice No. 24
  • Talk with Violin
  • Schubert: Ave Maria
  • Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto (last movement)
  • Bluegrass Medley
  • Prokoviev: Violin Concerto (last movement)
  • William Kroll: Banjo and Fiddle
  • Bach: Gavotte and Rondo
  • Prokoviev: Gavotte
  • Paul Nero: The Hot Canary


The New York Times

Los Angeles Times

Philadelphia Inquirer

Watch Video: In Recital from San Antonio Julius Schulman: A Listener's Introduction Listen to J. Neil Schulman's The Musician, with Julius Schulman, violin
Listen to Julius Schulman win Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts Million Dollar Violin The World According to J. Neil Schulman
Read J. Neil Schulman's Screenplay, No Strings Attached

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