Victor Yampolsky, the Russian-born conductor and violinist who has been a frequent guest of the Richmond Symphony, will retire after 37 years as head of orchestras at Northwestern University at the end of the school year.
The 79-year-old Yampolsky is the son of Vladimir Yampolsky, a prominent pianist in the former Soviet Union and longtime accompanist to David Oistrakh. The younger Yampolsky studied violin with Oistrakh, played in the Moscow Philharmonic, then conducted by Kirill Kondrashin, and eventually became the orchestra’s assistant concertmaster and assistant conductor.
Leonard Bernstein helped him emigrate to the West in the early 1970s. Within weeks of arriving in the US, Yampolsky had secured a position with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and within two years became its principal second violinist.
Attracted to conducting, he led an orchestra in Nova Scotia before joining the Northwestern faculty in 1984. Among his students were Giancarlo Guerrero, music director of the Nashville Symphony; Roderick Cox, the 2018 Georg Solti Award winner who was a candidate in the latest music-director search by the Richmond Symphony; and Chia-Hsuan Lin, the Richmond Symphony’s associate conductor.
Yampolsky was music director of the Omaha Symphony from 1995 until 2004, and guest conducted a number of orchestras and served as artistic director of several music festivals.
Richmond Symphony patrons will remember Yampolsky conducting Tchaikovsky’s “Manfred” Symphony in a 2016 Masterworks program, as well as leading several special concerts with the orchestra’s musicians.
A profile of Yamplosky by Les Jacobson for Evanston (IL) Roundtable: