Toscha Seidel (1899 –1962)

"The boy (Jascha Heifetz) was one of those in a group of young Jewish violinists who later startled the world. The others would include Mischa Elman, Tosha Seidel, Efrem Zimbalist and Nathan Milstein." ~ New York Times by Harold Schonberg, Published: December 12, 1987

Toscha Seidel was born in Odessa, Russia (now Odesa, Ukraine), the same town as Nathan Milstein. Indeed, both boys were students of Leopold Auer in St. Petersburg and are mentioned in Auer’s memoirs as “ two boys from Odessa...both of whom disappeared after I left St. Petersburg in June 1917” 

Heifetz and Seidel were firm friends although there are many reports of competition amongst them. Ruth Ray, a former violinist and close friend of them both had many stories of the rivalry that appeared between them. One such story was of the races that they would run when they were children. Ruth was 13yrs and Heifetz 10yrs and Seidel 11yrs. Instead of them all running a race together Ruth would run against Seidel and win.She would then race Heifetz and let him win so that he wouldn’t feel bad.

In the 1930’s he emigrated to the US, making a career in the studios of motion pictures. He was featured as a soloist in many movies, although some of them he was not credited for. These included Around the World in 80 days, Intermezzo Apomethe and The Wizard of Oz.

In 1934 Seidel gave violin instruction to Albert Einstein and received a sketch in return, reportedly diagramming his theroy of relativity.

Toscha became good friends with George Neikrug when he was concertmaster of the Paramount Studio orchestra. George was principal cellist and they often played chamber music together.  George said that Toscha had the biggest and most beautiful tone he had ever heard. George said he had the utmost respect for Toscha’s extraordinary abilities.

Seidel played on a violin by Antonio Stradivari “da Vinci” 1712, (now known as the Ex-Seidel) a Guadagnini 1786 and a copy of the Alard Stradivari by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume 1860.


All Golden Age String Players