Joseph (Joey) Silverstein passed away suddenly yesterday of an apparent heart attack at the age of 83.
A student of Efrem Zimbalist, William Primrose, Josef Gingold and Mischa Mischakof, Mr Silverstein was a former prize winner at the Queen Elisabeth and Walter W Naumburg International Violin Competitions.
He served as Concertmaster of the Boston Symphony for 22 years – and was later appointed the orchestra’s Assistant Conductor.
From 1983 to 1998 he served as Music Director of the Utah Symphony and held distinguished teaching positions at the Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory.
Gerald Elias studied with Silverstein at Yale, played with him in the Boston Symphony, and went on to play under him in the Salt Lake Symphony. “The music was never about himself, as it is with many conductors and violinists,” Elias said. “It’s almost impossible for a great conductor not to have a big ego; that’s part of what makes them great,” Elias noted. But with Silverstein, “it was always about the music. In that regard, he was very humble. … He always took a backseat to the composer. That was always his primary concern. That really was communicated to the musicians.”
I first met Joseph Silverstein as a high-school student playing with the Greater Boston Youth Symphony – I still have a poster in my viola case with a photo of “Uncle Joey” surrounded by adoring young string players, including me. During his Boston years, he lived in Newton; his wife was a precinct captain for my uncle, Fr. Robert Drinan’s Congressional campaigns, and they lived next door to Bob’s Chief of Staff. Silverstein and I often took the same Monday morning train from Dedham to New Haven where he was teaching at Yale and I was a grad student; we talked politics non-stop all the way. Later he was interim Artistic Director of the Hartford Symphony as we searched for a new Music Director and a frequent guest conductor – what a joy to make music with that man!
I know many of you knew him so much better than I; please add your memories to this post.
— Ann Drinan