Anshel Brusilow

Anshel Brusilow (August 14, 1928 – January 15, 2018) was an American violinist, conductor, and music educator at the collegiate level.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Growing up and education

Brusilow was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1928, the son of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants Leon Brusilow[lower-roman 1] (born Leiser Brusilovsky; 1897–1968) and Dora Brusilow (née Epstein; 1902–1977). He began his violin study at the age of five with William Frederick Happich (1884–1959) and subsequently studied with Jani Szanto (1887–1977).

Brusilow entered the Curtis Institute of Music when he was eleven and studied there with Efrem Zimbalist. Throughout most of his childhood and adolescence, he was known as "Albert Brusilow". Later, at the urging of his girlfriend (who would later become his wife), he returned to using his birth name, Anshel.[13]

Brusilow attended the Philadelphia Musical Academy and at sixteen was the youngest conducting student ever accepted by Pierre Monteux. A 4th prize winner of the Jacques Thibaud-Marguerite Long Violin Competition in 1949,[14] he performed as a soloist with numerous major orchestras in the United States.


From 1954–55, Brusilow was concertmaster and assistant conductor of the New Orleans Symphony under Alexander Hilsberg (1897–1961).[lower-roman 2] From 1955–59, he was associate concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell. And from 1959 to 1966, he was concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy.

Acclaimed recordings featuring Brusilow with the Philadelphia Orchestra include Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, and Strauss's Ein Heldenleben.[15]

While serving as concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Brusilow founded in 1961, and from 1961–65, conducted the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, an organization composed of musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra. But December 1964, Brusilow announced his resignation as concertmaster, effective June 1966, over a dispute with the Orchestra Association forbidding players from forming independent musical groups.[lower-roman 3]

Brusilow, in 1965, founded, and from 1965–68, directed and conducted the Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia,[16] which performed two and one-half 34-week seasons and recorded six records on RCA Victor. In 1968, the Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia folded under financial duress, attributed mostly to a lack of philanthropic support for a second orchestra in Philadelphia.

In 1970, Brusilow was appointed executive director and conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. He led the orchestra's first tours of Central and South America and started the pops series that the orchestra still performs to this day. The most notable recording from this period was Dallasound, a pops music album featuring several arrangements by Bill Holcombe.[17][18] In 1973, after a successful tour of Central and South America, Brusolow was summarily fired[19] after the Symphony's board of directors came under censure when it became public that composers were paying for having their works performed.[20]

He was the music director of the Richardson Symphony Orchestra in Richardson, Texas, from 1992 until his retirement from that position in 2012.[21]

Music educator in higher education
Brusilow was Director of Orchestral Studies at North Texas State University (later known as the University of North Texas) from 1973 to 1982, and again at North Texas from 1989 to 2008. Between 1982 and 1989 he held a similar post at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Brusilow retired from his professorship at North Texas in 2008. Shortly before his retirement he conducted his final concert with the University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday, April 23, 2008, in the Winspear Performance Hall of the Murchison Performing Arts Center in Denton. A $1,000,000 endowment, which includes the creation of a faculty position, the Anshel Brusilow Chair in Orchestral Studies, was established in his honor.[22]

Diplomas, awards, and professional affiliations

1947: Artist's diploma, Philadelphia Musical Academy
1968: MusD, Capitol University
(n.d.) National Patron, Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity[23]
2015: Forward Indies (IndieFab Book of Year), Gold Winner for Performing Arts & Music, sponsored by Foreword Reviews, Inc., for Brusilow's memoir, Shoot the Conductor: Too Close to Monteux, Szell, and Ormandy, co-written with Robin Underdahl, published July 15, 2015 (hardcover) and August 15, 2016 (paperback)[13][24]

Brusilow's violin and bows

Soon after becoming concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Brusilow purchased a 1743 Guarneri del Gesu violin[25] (Cozio 49626), which today is known as "The Brusilow." The violin, reportedly, was once owned by the French violinist, Jacques Pierre Rode (1774–1830), who had been a court violinist to Napoleon. The provenance also includes W.E. Hill & Sons; Arthur Beare (until 1929); Alfred Oppenheim Corbin (1874–1941), a Dutch-born London-then-New-York-investment-banker, amateur violinist, and serious collector of violins (1929 to 1931); Leo Reisman, who purchased it through Emil Herrmann (from 1931); Theodore Pitcairn, a philanthropist who purchased it through Rembert Wurlitzer (around 1953); Brusilow (1959 to 1966), then to its previous owner (name unknown).[26][27] Brusilow acquired the violin, through an arrangement, from Pitcairn, who, with Brusilow standing at his side at William Moennig & Son in Philadelphia, wrote a check for $28,000. Moennig, according to Brusilow, "threw in a Tourte bow for free," which Brusilow still owned in the late 1980s.[25] Brusilow wrote in his 2015 book, Shoot The Conductor: Too Close to Monteux, Szell, and Ormandy, that he also owned a John Dodd bow, and preferred it over the Tourte.[13]


Brusilow was married to Marilyn (née Marilyn Rae Dow). They had three children.[13]

Cultural offices
Preceded by
Donald Johanos
Music Directors, Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Succeeded by
Max Rudolf


Notes and references


  1. Leon Brusilow (1897–1968), father of Anshel Brusilow, is not the same person as Leon Brusiloff (1898–1973), longtime violinist and orchestra conductor. Anshel Brusilow's late brother, Nathan Brusilow (née Nachman Brusilow; 1920–2004), a longtime notable classical clarinetist from Philadelphia, is not the same person as Nathan Brusiloff (1904–1951) — Leon Brusiloff's brother and also a violinist.
  2. Alexander Hilsberg (1897–1961) had been a violinist with the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1926 to 1951; from 1936 to 1951, under Eugene Ormandy, he was concertmaster.
  3. Norman Carol replaced Brusilow as concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, effective August 1, 1966, and served in that role for 28 years (until 1994). Carol, like Brusilow, (a) was a native of Philadelphia, (b) was born in 1928, (c) had parents of Ukrainian descent, (d) studied violin with Efrem Zimbalist, (e) had been concertmaster of the New Orleans Symphony (f) began playing a 1743 Guarneri del Gesu violin, the "Spalding," when he became concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra.


  1. Scott Cantrell (2018-01-16). "Anshel Brusilow, former DSO conductor and head of orchestra programs at UNT and SMU, has died". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  2. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, (under "Brusilow" & "Brusilovsky"; Vol. 1 of 6) revised by Nicolas Slonimsky, Macmillan Publishing
        7th ed. (1988); OCLC 631949819
        8th ed. (1992); OCLC 24246972
        9th ed. (2001); OCLC 312475801
  3. Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Classical Musicians, by Nicolas Slonimsky, Schirmer Books (1997); OCLC 36111932
  4. Biography Index (Vol. 10), September 1973 – August 1976, H.W. Wilson Company (1977); OCLC 24559911
  5. International Who's Who in Music and Musicians' Directory, (12th ed.), 1990–1991, International Who's Who in Music (1990); OCLC 28065697
  6. The New American Dictionary of Music, by Philip D. Morehead with Anne MacNeil, E. P. Dutton (1991); OCLC 23694214
  7. The New Grove Dictionary of American Music (Brusilow in Vol. 1 of 4), H. Wiley Hitchcock & Stanley Sadie (eds.), Macmillan Press (1986); OCLC 13184437
  8. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (10 Vols.), H. Wiley Hitchcock (ed.), Macmillan Publishers (1980); OCLC 163429770, 163429617
  9. Who's Who in America (2 Vols.), Marquis Who's Who; ISSN 0083-9396
        38th ed., 1974–1975 (1974); OCLC 23953115
        39th ed., 1976–1977 (1976); OCLC 23953086
        40th ed., 1978–1979 (1978); OCLC 4199915
        41st ed., 1980–1981 (1980); OCLC 6560483
        42nd ed., 1982–1983 (1982); OCLC 8505742
        43rd ed., 1984–1985 (1984); OCLC 11330908
        44th ed., 1986–1987 (1986); OCLC 14948704
        45th ed., 1988–1989 (1988); OCLC 18583716
        46th ed., 1990–1991 (1990); OCLC 22631411
  10. Who's Who in American Music: Classical, Jaques Cattell Press (ed.), R.R. Bowker (1983); OCLC 10206087
  11. Who's Who in Entertainment (2nd ed.), 1992–1993, Marquis Who's Who (1992); ISSN 1044-0887, OCLC 25523584
  12. Who's Who in the South and Southwest, Marquis Who's Who
        13th ed., 1973–1974 (1973); OCLC 608905256
        14th ed., 1975–1976 (1975); OCLC 502333793
        15th ed., 1976–1977 (1976); OCLC 15687672
  13. Shoot The Conductor: Too Close to Monteux, Szell, and Ormandy, by Anshel Brusilow & Robin Underdahl, University of North Texas Press (2015); OCLC 905801938, ISBN 978-1-57441-613-8
  14. "The Violinists Laureates of 1949: Albert Brusilow" Paris: Long-Thibaud Crespin Foundation ( (retrieved June 20, 2015)
  15. "The New Concertmaster – Fulfilling Father's Hope, Anshel Brusilow Returns To Philadelphia Orchestra," by William A. Silverman, Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, June 28, 1959 (cover story)
  16. Marquis Who's Who; OCLC 4780235904
  17. Conductors on Record, by John L. Holmes, Greenwood Press (1982); OCLC 8977485; ISBN 0575027819
    Entry: "Brusilow, Anshel," p. 99
  18. "Anshel Brusilow, Violinist and Conductor, 1928–2018 – An Interview," interview by Julian Haylock, The Strad, January 16, 2018
  19. Underdahl, Robin. "The Unforgettable Anshel Brusilow". Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  20. Finklea, Robert (9 June 1974). "What Sank the Dallas Symphony Orchestra—After 74 Years?". New York Times. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  21. "Classical Music Review: Anshel Brusilow Lays Down Richardson Symphony Baton," by Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News April 14, 2012 (retrieved April 18, 2012)
  22. "Education notes," Dallas Morning News, March 17, 2008
  23. National Patrons Archived 2012-03-05 at the Wayback Machine
  24. "[ Shoot the Conductor – Too Close to Monteux, Szell, and Ormandy, 2015 Indies Winner: Gold, Performing Arts & Music (Adult Nonfiction), Forward Reviews (Foreword Magazine, Inc., Traverse City, Michigan) (retrieved January 24, 2018)
  25. "Brusilow Returns as 'a Happy Man'" by Daniel Webster, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 11, 1987, p. 8C (accessible via at
  26. "Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri 'del Gesù', Cremona, 1743, the 'Brusilow,'" (Cozio 49626), Tarisio Auctions (retrieved January 16, 2018)
  27. The Jacques Français Rare Violins, Inc. Photographic Archive and Business Records, 1844–1998, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (illustrated)

See also

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