René-Charles “Zino” Francescatti was a French virtuoso violinist.
Zino Francescatti was born in Marseilles, to a musical family. Both parents were violinists. His father, who also played the cello, had studied with Camillo Sivori. Zino studied violin from age three and was quickly recognized as a child prodigy. He began performing at the age of five and made his debut at age 10, playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto.
In 1927 he went to Paris to teach at the École Normale de Musique; he also conducted the Concerts Poulets. He made his first world tour in 1931 and his American debut with John Barbirolli and the New York Philharmonic in 1939, playing Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1. His recording of the concerto is still regarded as one of the best. At the end of World War II in 1945, he pursued an outstanding international career until his retirement in 1976.
A violinist of outstanding technical ability, Francescatti played all of the great concerti. His performances of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3, Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1, and others, are highly regarded.