MAESTRO'S MUSICAL FAMILY
Click Picture above and listen to a rare WWII
recording that Bob Borisoff sent to his family.
This record was sent courtesy of the Red Cross, from a hospital in San
Francisco, where Bob was
from injuries he sustained during an accidental depth-charge mine detonation.
Circa 1969...The Heifetz Electric Car was designed and built for Jascha Heifetz by Bob Borisoff, PE. Mr. Heifetz traveled from home to Hollywood. The car did 45 mph for 45 to 70 miles depending on how he conserved the energy. (Allegro ma non troppo!)
Read "15 Years Before Its Time,"...
The complete history of
Update: Bob Borisoff passed away, June 5th, 2021, a
month short of his 96th birthday.
Click the picture above to hear a little of Grandma Manya's playing...
included is Stephen Borisoff playing a portion of "The Polonaise."
Stephen recorded grandma's playing with his Grundig tape recorder which he
hid behind the living room curtain. The sound quality is poor... its all we
One of many banners that were found on German concert hall marquees
Read reviews from her concertizing years in Berlin, Germany
(click on thumbnails to enlarge)
In her own words... a short description of Maria (Drobatschewska) Borisoff's musical training and concertizing in pre-war Berlin... excerpted from her later statement to the German government when she applied for reparations...
I, Maria Fuchs Borisoff, born Drobatschewska, was born an April 4, 1899, in Odessa, Russia. I attended the imperial school of music and relocated to Berlin in October, 1910. I enjoyed private instruction in piano with Georg Bertram, Berlin W. 30, Haberlandstrasse 3. In September 1911, I continued my study at the Stern’sche Konservatorium der Musik (1850-1936) where, on July 1, 1914 I received the Gustav Dutchman medal for my musical achievement. Then I became the master pupil of Leonid Kreutzer, professor at the national University in Berlin. I obtained official certification to concertize and teach piano. I performed in Berlin to sold out houses and received rav reviews. I married Mischa Fuchs on April 5, 1923. With Hitler's seizure of power in January 1933 and when Jews were forbidden to concertize, I had to terminate my musical career. We emigrated to the United States on 25th of May 1934.
Maria Borisoff was born in Odessa Russia 86 years ago, the youngest of 5 children. The entire family was totally immersed in music and at the ripe old age of 8, Manya, as she was affectionately called, was whisked away to Berlin by Uncle Fiedemann, who maintained that she was a budding child prodigy and that this talent needed to be cultivated in an atmosphere more appropriate than Czarist Russia.
The Berlin of 1910 was teeming with culture and music. Into this milieu came this child, ready to study and work toward the goal of concert pianist. To make ends meet, she donned high heels to look much older, so that she could take on students who were just a few years younger than she was. It wasn't too long before she took to the concert stage and received glowing reviews.
In 1923 she married Mischa Borisoff and two years later gave birth to their son, Boris, the light of their lives.
With the establishment of the Hitler regime in 1933, an early incident awakened them to the need for leaving the country. First plans were to emigrate to Palestine but, on the urging of Uncle Sasha, successfully established in Los Angeles, they decided to come to America, arriving in 1934.
For the second time in her life she was uprooted and thrust into a different culture. Here she was, no language but that of music, trying to find herself and help provide for the family in the midst of the U.S. side of the great depression. She did it all, raised a wonderful, bright child, gave music lessons and recitals, and established herself in the musical world of L. A. She loved the excitement, the rush and the challenges of a busy working life.
Unfortunately, 'Bob' was not imbued with his parents' great interest in music, but instead preferred to tinker with motors and old watches. After several failed attempts at the piano and the violin, Manya gave up on a musical career for Bob.
With the coming of World War II and the holocaust, she tried valiantly to bring her brother and his family to the U. S. with partial success. Her beloved brother, Heinrich, and all of her remaining family in Russia were lost.
1948 saw Bob's marriage to Edith and the subsequent birth of the twins, Stephen and Paul. All her energies went into the care and nurturing of her beloved twins. All this time she harbored the not-so-secret dream that they should take up the musical mantle of her interrupted career. This task took on the manner of a crusade when she purchased their first piano on the occasion of their fifth birthday.
Before long she had two more "victims" in the persons of David and Susan. There was the fun of staying at Grandma Manya's house for the weekend and getting all of her personal attention including a music lesson. Trips to Desert Hot Springs were also part of life with Grandma with all of the hustle and bustle of packing up and getting on the road before the traffic began. But behind all of this was her first and foremost goal: that of the children's musical education. One would have to say that she succeeded. Every one of the children is in some measure connected to music and finds it an integral part of his life.
Mischa passed away in 1964 and with him went a great deal of the meaning of her life. The children grew up and, as children will, they grew away. They all married and had children of their own and shared their joy with their Grandma Manya.
Age and infirmity took its toll and Manya was no longer able to fend for herself, so she resorted to living in a retirement hotel. When that was no longer feasible, she moved to Petit House and was cared for tirelessly by their caring staff. Her latest accident made hospitalization necessary and with that - her passing on February 27. Those powerfully talented fingers, once acclaimed throughout Europe, are stilled, but ...the melody lingers on...
Information on the Drobatschewsky Family and a Family Tree.
A Brilliant Violinist whose life was cut short in a German Concentration Camp.
Uncle Heinrich (far right) Member of the Fiedemann Quartet
For many years, we were unsure whether "Uncle"
Fiedemann was a relation or if "Uncle" was just a title of respect given to
a close friend of the family. Heinrich Drobatschewsky played in his quartet. I understand
that the quartet was quite well known and had even played Carnegie Hall.
I was contacted by a distant family member currently living in the Ukraine.
He had researched the historical Jewish archives and passed on important information... Alexander Fiedemann was the brother of Sonya
Fiedemann. Sonya Fiedemann Drobatschewska was wife to Solomon
Drobatschewsky... the Grand Mother of Henekh (Heinrich), Khaye-Rokhl, Royze
& Fenya (fraternal twins) and Miryem (Maria). Indeed, he was their Uncle. Heinrich and
Maria were sent to Berlin under the care of Uncle Fiedemann. Their
musical talent and future study were their ticket out of the Ukraine, away
from the Tzar Nicholas, the pogroms and all that threatened their Shtetl.
Uncle Alexander Fiedemann
Dimitri Drobatschewsky in "Beau Geste,
Playing the toy trumpet part of
During World War II, Heinrich's son, Dimitri, joined the Vichy Foreign Legion. He served until the spring of 1942, then he deserted and rejoined De Gaulle's Free French Forces in Libya. That army also had a brigade of Foreign Legionnaires, so he remained a legionnaire. With the Free French Forces, he fought the Nazis not only in France, but also in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Italy and finally, France and Germany. After immigrating to the United States, he became a music critic for a Arizona Republic. Once, when asked what credentials supported his being a music critic, he responded, "In order to be a music critic, your last name must be very long!" Despite the hardship and loss of the war years, Dimitri is blessed with a wonderful sense of humor and passion for life and the arts.
Update: Dimitri Drobatschewsky (May 7, 1922 - December 15, 2012)
Dimitri's Brother, Vladimir Drobatschewsky.
Today, Vladimir lives in Cuba.
Update September 14, 2010 from Dimitri Drobatschewsky:
A bit of sad news: today, my brother Wowo died peacefully in his bed, after a very long illness and three strokes. Given his condition and medical history, I consider his death mostly a deliverance; he did not enjoy life during the last year or so and he was unable to do anything other than be dependent on his 24/7 caretaker. But we all have good memories of and about him, and he was an excellent musician. He will be buried Wednesday, in Havana. Hope all is well with you.
All the best,
Grandpa Mischa (top center) - Conducting the back row?
Boris Fuchs Borisoff - Mischa Borisoff's Father
He was an accomplished violinist and also owned a hosiery factory. He apparently was well off until Stalin's Bolsheviks jailed and then killed him. Maria Borisoff reported that she had heard that the Bolshevik fanatics also blew up the factory despite a great scarcity of clothing needed for the Russian winter.
Alexander Borisoff Nickname: Sasha
Alexander Borisoff was born in Odessa, Russia. He attended the Russian
Conservatory of Music where he majored in Composition and Cello. He
graduated with a Doctorate in Music and performed as a concert cellist in a
series of highly successful appearances throughout Europe before coming to
America. While touring the United States, Alexander was invited by Dr. Otto
Klemperer to join the Los Angeles Philharmonic as their first cellist.
During his tenure with the Philharmonic, Alexander introduced his Cello
Concerto and his Poeme Ancient for Cello, Narrator, Chorus & Orchestra.
Alexander was commissioned by NBC to compose a tone poem for Symphony
Orchestra based upon the theme America which was played by the Los Angeles
Philharmonic over a coast-to-coast broadcast and subsequently performed by
major symphony orchestras throughout the United States. In 1971, Alexander's
String Quartet was recorded by the American Chamber Virtuosi and in 1975 his
Impressions of Hawaii was commissioned and performed by the Honolulu
Symphony Orchestra. He wrote scores for many Hollywood motion pictures and
television programs and has also made musical arrangements for well-known
vocalists and recording groups. He also wrote books on musical composition.
Alexander sadly passed away in the early 1980s.
|(click on thumbnails to enlarge)
And the talent continues...
Janice Ortega - My Cousin (Alexander Borisoff's Grand Daughter)
Janice was influenced by great harp
teachers beginning with Wenonah Govea, California State University East Bay,
where Janice graduated Magna Cum Laude, Bachelor of Arts in Music. Janice
studied harp performance over several summers at the Aspen Music School with
Nancy Allen of The Julliard School and Principal Harpist of the New York
David Alan Miller has established a
reputation as one of the leading American conductors of his generation.
Frequently in demand as a guest conductor, he has worked with most of
America’s major orchestras, developing especially close relationships with
the Minnesota Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony. He has also conducted the
orchestras of Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Pittsburgh, San
Francisco, Baltimore, Houston, Milwaukee and Indianapolis, as well as the
New World Symphony and the New York City Ballet.
David was born into a musical family. His father, Gerald Miller, served for many years as a Cantor at Temple Judea in the San Fernando Valley. He also taught music classes at Monroe High School.
Stephen inherited a love of Chopin's compositions from my grandmother. He practiced them endlessly throughout our childhood. In fact, every time I picked up my guitar to play, he'd come bounding down the stairs, hop on the piano bench and perform The Polonaise in the most strident manner! Needless to say, my guitar didn't stand a chance against his mighty piano exploits!
(Click here to hear for yourself what I
was up against!)
David abandoned the piano at young age and decided one day to take up
banjo... What a strange instrument, we all thought. Well, he
really became very good at it... and the what the heck, we all loved The
Beverly Hillbillies. At one point David sought out and took a lesson
from the famous Herb Peterson of the Dillards. The lesson went well
and Herb advised David that he was VERY good and there wasn't a lot more
that he could teach him. David also has mastered the Steel Guitar.
He put both skills to use playing on a bluegrass circuit with the Red Rock
Ramblers at venues like Putney Station and Cal's Corral. Accompanying
him were song writer, Jim Fowler and Kate Mcdonald, a fine vocalist to whom he soon
married. David is the owner of Hipshot Products, producing a fine line
unique bass and guitar products and accessories...
(Click here to learn
about Hipshot Products, New York.)
... befallen by the back side of its
proud player... now
"In the jingle, jangle morning, I'll come following you." Bob dylan
instrument is in no way related to or crafted by Antonio Stadivari...
Sad to report... during the first rain the violin-windchime
Master (Maestro) Paul H. Borisoff played a major role in producing a fund-raiser for the Willie Ross Foundation. Despite the Tujunga Fires, the show went on bringing badly needed funds to the foundation! Kung-Fu San Soo, Reseda's students, past and present, rallied to help out.