COURTESY CHRIS LEEViolinist Glenn Dicterow makes his first San Francisco appearance since his retirement from the New York Philharmonic in New Century Chamber Orchestra concerts this week.

N.Y. Phil's Glenn Dicterow plays with New Century

Although he occupied one of the most prestigious positions in the classical music world for 34 years, and performed internationally in opulent concert halls, violinist Glenn Dicterow is most impressed by San Francisco’s breathtaking natural beauty.

“The walk to the Golden Gate is the most beautiful vision I’ve seen in the whole world – I don’t care where. There is nothing more beautiful than your city,” says the New York Philharmonic’s recently retired concertmaster, who appears with the New Century Chamber Orchestra in the Bay Area this week.

Like legendary fiddlers Isaac Stern and Yehudi Menuhin, Dicterow, 66, has strong early ties to The City. “As a teenager, I used to commute from L.A., staying with my aunt and uncle on Parker Avenue, right between Geary and Turk. Every two weeks, I would have a violin lesson with the great Naoum Blinder, who taught my father and, of course, Isaac Stern,” he says.

Dicterow, now on the faculty of University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, has fond memories of a notable alumnus: “I’ve known Michael Tilson Thomas since he was a kid, so I know just how brilliant he is. He is an amazing conductor – in the mold of a Lenny Bernstein – and what he does in San Francisco is just terrific. He is the man for that job. You’re very lucky to have somebody like that in your city.”

A former pupil of Jascha Heifetz, Dicterow credits his success (more than 6,000 performances alongside 200 conductors) to his exposure to great musicians, and believes music educators should follow that example. His father Harold, a longtime violinist with for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, brought artists such as Leonid Kogan and Henryk Szeryng to the Dicterow home, and Glenn learned by watching them.

“People will remember technical wizardry for only a short time, and this generation may be over-inspired with all the many recordings on YouTube and Spotify. But turning a phrase like Fritz Kreisler – now, that’s something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” says Dicterow.

New Century’s program includes Mozart’s Divertimento in D Major (which Dicterow considers one of the most beautiful works ever written) and Brahms’ Sextet for Strings No. 1, as well as Holst’s “St. Paul’s Suite” and Grieg’s “Two Nordic Melodies.” Dicterow says he was inspired to learn the latter two after hearing their haunting melodies on the radio.


New Century Chamber Orchestra

Dicterow Leads Brahms and Mozart

Where: Nourse Auditorium, 275 Hayes St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. March 7

Tickets: $29 to $61

Contact: (415) 392.4400,

Note: Concerts also are at 8 p.m. March 5 in Berkeley, 8 p.m. March 6 in Palo Alto and 5 p.m. March 8 in San Rafael.

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