Nathan Mironovich Milstein was a Russian-born American virtuoso violinist.
Widely considered one of the finest violinists of the 20th century, Milstein was known for his interpretations of Bach’s solo violin works and for works from the Romantic period. He was also known for his long career: he performed at a high level into his mid 80s, retiring only after suffering a broken hand.
He was born in Odessa, then part of the Russian Empire, the fourth child of seven, to a middle-class Jewish family with virtually no musical background. It was a concert by the 11-year-old Jascha Heifetz that inspired his parents to make a violinist out of Milstein. As a child, he started violin studies with the eminent violin pedagogue Pyotr Stolyarsky, also the teacher of renowned violinist David Oistrakh.
When Milstein was 11, Leopold Auer invited him to become one of his students at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Milstein reminisced: