Announcing the 2nd annual Roman Totenberg Young Musicians String Competition

Posted by



The 2nd Annual Roman Totenberg Young Musicians String Competition, Directed by Dr. Vera Rubin, President of the Massachusetts Music Teachers Association will again be held in memory of Professor Roman Totenberg at the Newton Cultural Center at City Hall.


The Competition is open to all Massachusetts string musicians ages 8-18.  Winners will participate in a Gala Concert to be held on December 7.  The Competition will be held in Two Rounds. The deadline for the Round One Competition is Friday, October 11.  Applicants are requested to submit a video recording (or post to YouTube) of two concert pieces written for a string instrument, with piano, or unaccompanied. Application and full competition details are available at


Winners of Round 1 will participate in the Round 2 Competition which will take place on Sunday,

December 1 from 10am – 4pm. Judges will be from the faculty of New England and Boston area

educational institutions.


Dr. Vera Rubin founded this Competition in honor of her mentor.  Dr. Rubin holds a degree of Doctor of Musical Arts from Boston University, Master of Music degree from Gnessin Academy of Music in Moscow, and Artist degree from Music Academy in Jerusalem, Israel.  Prior to her immigration from Russia, Dr. Rubin performed as a soloist and a chamber music player with the Philharmonic Society of Vladimir, and throughout the Soviet Union and Europe.  From 1990 to 1994, Ms. Rubin was a soloist and a concertmaster of the Yad Harif Chamber Orchestra in Jerusalem, Israel.  She performed with the orchestra both in Israel and in Europe.  She organized and led the Mendelssohn String Quartet who was recorded for broadcast in Israel, Germany and Czechoslovakia.  She also taught and played in New Zealand.

Dr. Rubin performs in the Boston area and throughout New England. She also teaches performance violin at NEC preparatory school, and has a private teaching studio in Newton.


Roman Totenberg, a great violinist and a masterful teacher, was an inspiration to all who knew and loved him. His daughter NPR Supreme Court reporter, Nina Totenberg reported that her father made his made his U.S. debut with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. in 1935. The performance was such a success — he was called back six times for encores — then he was invited to the White House to play for President Roosevelt. Totenberg had a few weeks earlier played for the king of Italy, and that affair was so formal that he had to borrow a top hat and cape from the Polish ambassador, and back off the stage so as not to offend the king.  In contrast, after the performance at the White House, Eleanor Roosevelt served dinner in the family quarters, serving each of the performers from a sitting position on the floor in front of a table. As Totenberg would later recount, he thought to himself as he compared the two events, “This is the country for me!”


His teaching career, he often said, was even longer than his performance career, since he began at age 9 (his student was 8), and his teaching ended only at his death. In Boston, he was chairman of the strings department at Boston University from 1961-78, and was named co-chairman again in 1994, after a long stint as director of the Longy School of Music in Cambridge.  In earlier years, he taught at the Mannes School of Music in New York City and was chairman of the string department at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore.


In 1983 the American String Teachers Association named him artist teacher of the year, and in 1996 he was awarded Boston University’s Metcalf Prize as the university’s outstanding teacher of the year.

In the summers, Totenberg always remained busy — teaching and playing, spending more than a decade in Aspen, at Tanglewood, and, for the last 37 years at Kneisel Hall in Blue Hill, Maine.


Totenberg also served often on international musical juries. Among the more memorable: his service on the jury for Menuhin Prize with his old friend Yehudi Menuhin the year before Menuhin’s death, and his service on the jury for the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1991. It was Totenberg’s first return to Moscow in more than a half century. Over the years Totenberg recorded with all the major labels.

Cash prizes will be given toFirst Place Winners. All other winners receive gift certificates to Boston area instrument shops & Award Certificates. Application Fee is $75.00. If more information is needed contact

Dr. Rubin at


Sponsored in by the Mayor’s Office for Cultural Affairs, Linda Plaut, Director, Newton Community Pride with a grant from the Newton Arts Lottery Council. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s