On February 1, the conductor and violinist Yuval Waldman—a protégé of Isaac Stern—died at the age of seventy-four. Besides being an accomplished performer, Waldman dedicated much of his energy to reviving the works of Jewish composers who were murdered in the Shoah, or whose work was suppressed by Soviet tyranny. Neil Genzlinger recounts some episodes from his remarkable life:
Vladimir Waldman was born on December 21, 1946, in Lvov, which was then part of the Soviet Union (and is now in western Ukraine, with the name usually rendered Lviv). He changed his first name to Yuval after the family had settled in Israel, taking the name of a figure from the Hebrew Bible associated with music.
In July 1973 Mr. Waldman interrupted his career to join the reserves of the Israel Defense Forces. Because of all of the languages he had mastered through his multinational upbringing and touring, he was assigned to the intelligence unit. His musical skills had gotten him assigned to the entertainment unit as well. When the Yom Kippur War broke out that October . . . he was assigned to play for tank units in Sinai.
Waldman’s son, [Ariel], said he told the story of the time he clambered onto a tank when a commander ordered him to play something to soothe the troops after a particularly intense bombing. He played Bach. Many in the unit were recent Moroccan immigrants to Israel and had not heard Bach before.
“My father remembered a moment when he was playing the Chaconne of Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor,” Ariel Waldman said, “and looked up to see tears streaming down their faces in the dust.”
More about: Bach, East European Jewry, Jewish music, Moroccan Jewry, Music, Yom Kippur War