"I am always looking for new, unknown, or unusual works," says Glenn Dicterow, Concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, explaining his attraction to the work he performs with the Philharmonic under Lorin Maazel in its New York premiere this month: Aaron Jay Kernis's Lament and Prayer. These appearances by Mr. Dicterow mark his 193rd solo turn with the orchestra, and an important milestone‹his 25th anniversary season as Concertmaster.
During his tenure, Mr. Dicterow has served with distinction for the three M's of the Philharmonic: Music Directors Zubin Mehta (who appointed him), Kurt Masur, and Lorin Maazel. Mr. Maazel, a violinist himself, heaps praise on his colleague: "I have the good fortune of having a kindred spirit in Glenn, so that very often only a glance will suffice during rehearsal or concert to communicate a thought or project or concept." This statement underscores the essential link that Mr. Dicterow represents between the podium and the players. "To fulfill the role of concertmaster," Mr. Maazel continues, "one needs to be a virtuoso soloist, have wall-to-wall knowledge of the standard repertoire, and be able to act as a conduit between conductor and orchestra in matters of rhythm and phrasing. In addition, you need to be a fine colleague and yet command your colleagues' respect and be able to represent the entire orchestra with dignity. Glenn Dicterow excels in each category."
For his part, Mr. Dicterow cherishes his career with the Orchestra. "I have been very fortunate indeed to make music with the greatest assemblage of fine musicians in the world: my colleagues at the Philharmonic. I have also been lucky to have worked under some of the greatest conductors, all of which has allowed me to grow as a musician.
Some of his memorable experiences have included playing at the White House for President Reagan and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi; a Barber Violin Concerto performed before an audience of more than 10,000 at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, and performances of Bernstein's Serenade with the composer conducting.
"It scarcely seems possible," he adds, reflecting on his Philharmonic years, "that I have probably performed close to 50 times on PBS's Live From Lincoln Center."
Philharmonic audiences know Mr. Dicterow best in his role in the ensemble, but he also enjoys an active career as a soloist. At the Philharmonic alone, since becoming Concertmaster Mr. Dicterow has appeared every season as a soloist, although his very first association with the Philharmonic dates to 1967, when he was only 18 and made his debut in the Tchaikovksy Violin Concerto, with Andre Kostelanetz conducting.
Mr. Dicterow's expressive tone has also found favor with film composers and is featured on sound tracks to such movies as Altered States, Interview with the Vampire, and the animated features Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. While he has performed the standard repertoire‹concertos by Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch, Prokofiev ‹ throughout his tenure, he has also enriched the Philharmonic's repertoire with first performances of concertos by composers as diverse as Szymanowski, Rózsa, and Menotti, and this month, Aaron Jay Kernis. "As for the future, I continue to seek ways to attract an audience through living composers and their art. What could be more important?"
Mario Mercado serves as research editor of Travel and Leisure magazine and is the author of The Evolution of Mozart's Pianistic Style.