By Benjamin Ivry
The Jewish violinist Eudice Shapiro, who died in 2007 at age 93, proved that even with talent and charm, life as a woman and a musician in America could be as shaky as that of a fiddler on the roof.
Shapiro, who is being honored with two new CD reissue sets from Biddulph Recordings, was a virtuoso with superstar friends like the violinist Jascha Heifetz and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. Yet her own celebrity was limited to a circle of mavens, in part because she spent years as concertmaster in Hollywood studio orchestras, sight reading new musical scores under pressure, but uncredited when the film credits rolled. Hidden from the public eye, she became the first-ever female concertmaster hired by any Hollywood studio.
After being the sole female student in the class of the Russian Jewish instructor Efrem Zimbalist at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she toiled alongside such Jewish friends as Oscar Shumsky and Felix Slatkin, Shapiro headed west to seek year-round employment, at a time when most musicians were limited to abbreviated seasonal engagements...
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