Joseph Silverstein

What projects are you involved with at the moment?

At the moment I am actively involved guest conducting, soloing, playing chamber music, teaching, and just enjoying music as much as ever being an amateur in the very best sense of the word.

Tell me what is the most satisfying aspect of your career.

For over fifty years it has been a thrill a week. I have had the opportunity to play under and solo with many of the greatest conductors of the 2nd half of the 20th century and have played chamber music with some of the most incredible musicians of the past.

There have been too many opportunities throughout my career to pinpoint one. My teaching has provided me with great opportunities. As a violinist I would have to point to those hours in Boston we spent recording three concerti with Jascha Heifitz as a really memorable experience in my life.

In your view how is music education affecting the music industry?

The world of music today enjoys, in the young players, a level of physical proficiency that is so far beyond that of my youth that I am constantly amazed. The negative side of that shiny coin is the fact that many of these wonderfully facile young players do not have the passion for music that would further inform their playing.

What trends do you see in music education?

I am very deeply saddened by the fact that public school music education has been monetarily sabotaged by financial cutbacks. I, myself, am a product of public school music education. My father, who was my first violin teacher, taught violin in the Detroit public schools. I played in the Jr. All-City orchestra prior to going to the Curtis Institute.

The artistic side of the brain is being so terribly neglected in public school education. The Suzuki Method has done a great deal to fill that gap. I spent 13 years in Salt Lake City, and the Suzuki program was dynamite. Ramona Sterling and Debbie Moench have done a remarkable job of raising both the level of string playing and advancing the Suzuki Method in that area.

Have you been, or are you, actively involved in teaching?

Yes, I have been teaching at the Curtis Institute for the past seven years.

I have taught at Boston University, New England Conservatory and Yale during the years I was Concert Master of the Boston Symphony.

Do you presently have any contact with the Suzuki method?

Not really—just those students that I work with who were started in the method.

My first exposure to the Suzuki method was in 1960 in Tokyo. When the Boston Symphony went on tour to Japan, I attended a demonstration concert by Broadus Earle at the Budokan in Tokyo.

When you were asked to be a member of our Honorary Board, what prompted you to say, “Yes?”

I feel that the Suzuki Method has filled a very important void in the whole educational system of the United State. It has a very important function in sustaining the musical experience for young people. I consider the Suzuki approach to be a strong program that combines music, intelligence, and the family. I also felt that I could on occasion, express myself in both praise and criticism in a productive manner.

Anything else you would like to tell the Suzuki Association?

My one strong piece of advice is to encourage the students to attend more live concerts and listen to great music. Encourage them to play chamber music and develop the bond with great music that will give them the view of what they can achieve through their studies.