Photo Album

The Family of Mischa and Maria (Drobatschewsky) Borisoff


Photo Gallery
149 Family Photos

        Slide Show Presentation
Annotated with Names and Information


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 recovering 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!)

(click picture above for film clip)


Read the article from the L.A. Times about a second 1970 electric car.

                                 Read "15 Years Before Its Time,"... The complete history of Borisoff
                                 Engineering's, "Electrobus," an all-electric rapid transit vehicle.  (Pages 14-27)

Update:  Bob Borisoff passed away, June 5th, 2021, a month short of his 96th birthday.



Maria Drobatschewska Borisoff - My Grandmother, was
a child prodigy and after her arrival in Los Angeles,
"Madame Borisoff"  taught many LA area pianists.

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 have! 





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)




Madame Drobatschewska


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.

Here is the Modern day location of #1 Gitschiner Strasse, Berlin. This is the street where my grandparents and father resided while in Berlin. The yellow dot indicates where their condominium once stood. The area was bombed out during the war and the street's location was changed when the area was rebuilt. Dad used to ice skate on the canal located on the left.



Maria Drobatschewska Borisoff's Eulogy, February 27, 1989
written by her daughter-in-law, Edith Borisoff.

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...


Sister Susan's children, Jonah, Laurel and Ethan play Maria Drobatschewska's Bechstein Concert Grand at a recital, June 2016.

  More Historical Information on the Drobatschewsky Family and a Family Tree.




Heinrich Drobatschewsky - My Great Uncle - Maria's Brother


A Brilliant Violinist whose life was cut short in a German Concentration Camp.




Uncle Heinrich was a noted European violinist and concert master for various large German and Dutch Orchestras.  He was trained by the eminent teacher, Carl Fleisch. Members of his family made valiant attempts to bring him to safety, but these efforts were in vain.


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, 1966"

Real Legionnaires were recruited to add
authenticity... The film however was not
an Academy Award contender!



Playing the toy trumpet part of Leopold
Mozart's Toy Symphony


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)

Mitja passed away peacefully in his daughter's home in Arizona, He was 90 years old.  He is survived by his son, Serge and daughter Stephanie. 

Dimitri's Brother, Vladimir Drobatschewsky.
  Today, Vladimir lives in Cuba.

Update September 14, 2010 from Dimitri Drobatschewsky:

Hello, Bob and Paul

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,

                  Vladimir was 90 years old.


Grandpa Mischa (top center) - Conducting the back row?



Mischa Borisoff (2nd from the left) - My Grandfather



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 here to read an LA Times article about Uncle Sascha's house on Cheswic Lane
where he hosted many home concerts featuring the most famous and talented artists.




  (click on thumbnails to enlarge)  

And the talent continues...

Click Janice's picture for a little harp serenade.


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 Philharmonic Orchestra.

Janice completed post-graduate studies in harp performance at the Royal Conservatory of the Netherlands as part of the Artist Diploma Program. Janice studied with Phia Berghout, Principal Harpist with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, in Amsterdam. The Independent newspaper of the UK, Saturday 27 March 1993 01:02, described Phia Berghout as “arguably the most influential harpist this century.”

Janice earned the Master of Music degree in Harp Performance with a Pedagogy Minor from Indiana University under the direction of Susann McDonald. Her curriculum included improvisational jazz harp, pedagogy, advanced theory and ear training, open score reading, keyboard facility, and figured bass reading. The American Harp Journal, Winter 2017, wrote: "Susann McDonald is one of the great harpists and harp teachers in the world. She has been a teacher and a role model to an amazing number of the most prominent harpists of our time…”

Janice performed with many European orchestras, beginning with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam, under the direction of Kiril Kondrashin. Her later performances included symphony orchestras in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and Germany, and in the US, with festival orchestras in Tanglewood and Aspen.

Janice wrote "I was very fortunate to have great harp teachers, and I wish to continue their legacy." She continues their legacy through private teaching, four academic appointments, and recently through a series of videos on advanced performance techniques for the harp sponsored by the American Harp Society Bay Area Chapter.

Janice’s contributions to the American Harp Society (AHS) span several decades. During her tenure as co-president of the AHS Bay Area Chapter, the Chapter sponsored the annual AHS National Harp Conference in San Francisco, a National Harp Competition, and a Northern California Harp Competition. Janice also addressed the AHS National Harp Conference as a guest speaker and concert artist. Linda Rollo, Chairman of the Board, American Harp Society, reviewed Janice’s concert performance: “This was a beautiful presentation, well-played, polished and professional. The Shapiro is a wonderful piece which you played brilliantly, without a hitch. Your speaking and general rapport with the audience was excellent and I loved the Mozart, as did the entire audience.” Janice served as President of the AHS Hayward Chapter and is alumnus advisor for the California State University Chapter of Mu Phi Epsilon.  Visit Janice's Website at




David Alan Miller Conductor - My Cousin




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.

As Music Director of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held since 1992, Mr. Miller has proven himself a creative and compelling orchestra builder. Through exploration of unusual repertoire, educational programming, community outreach and recording initiatives, he has reaffirmed the Albany Symphony’s reputation as the nation’s leading champion of American symphonic music and one of its most innovative orchestras. Recent honors include Columbia University’s 2003 Ditson Conductor’s Award, the oldest award honoring conductors for their commitment to American music. Additionally, Mr. Miller has received the 2001 ASCAP Morton Gould Award for Innovative Programming and, in 1999, ASCAP’s first-ever Leonard Bernstein Award for Outstanding Educational Programming.

In September, 2006, Mr. Miller opened the Chicago Symphony subscription season and the Chicago World Music Festival with four highly acclaimed concerts. During the 2006-7 season, he returns to the Minnesota Orchestra for his eighth season as conductor, creator and host of its "Casual Classics" series. Recent highlights included appearances with the Baltimore, Houston and Milwaukee Symphonies, the Minnesota and Louisville Orchestras, the Grand Teton Music Festival and his third visit to the Estoril Festival, Portugal's leading arts festival. He recently traveled to Australia to lead performances of John Adams oratorio, “El Niño,” at the Sydney Opera House.

Internationally, Mr. Miller made his debut with the RAI Orchestra in Turin, Italy, in the 1999-2000 season. He has also conducted major European orchestras in Berlin, Barcelona, Prague, Dresden, Hanover, Halle and Mainz. He has appeared with the Adelaide Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and Singapore Symphony; led the Australian Youth Orchestra on its European tour; and conducted the Asian Youth Orchestra on a major tour of the Far East that included concerts in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. In Canada, he has conducted the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa and the Edmonton Symphony.

Mr. Miller is highly regarded as a champion and interpreter of American music, new and old. His extensive discography includes recordings of the works of Todd Levin with the London Symphony Orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon, as well as music by Michael Daugherty, Kamran Ince, and Michael Torke for London/Decca. His recordings with the Albany Symphony include discs of music by John Harbison, Roy Harris, Morton Gould, Don Gillis, Vincent Persichetti, George Lloyd and Peter Mennin, all on the Albany Records label. He also led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in its recording of Mel Powell’s music, including “Duplicates: Concerto for Two Pianos,” winner of the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Mr. Miller's most recent CD release is the world premiere recording of Michael Torke's opera, Strawberry Fields, on the Ecstatic Records label. He is currently completing a disc of major works by Greek-American George Tsontakis with the Albany Symphony for Koch. Mr. Miller is the founder and Artistic Director of New Paths in Music, a festival in New York City dedicated to presenting the works of significant non-American composers who are not yet well-known in the U.S.

Prior to his appointment in Albany, Mr. Miller was Associate Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. During his five-year tenure there, he conducted subscription concerts, special programs at the Hollywood Bowl, and Symphonies for Youth concerts, and he led the orchestra in premieres of numerous works. From 1982 to 1988, he was Music Director of the New York Youth Symphony, earning considerable acclaim for his work with that ensemble. A native of Los Angeles, David Alan Miller holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from The Juilliard School. Mr. Miller lives with his wife and three children in Slingerlands, New York.

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.


Master Paul H. Borisoff



Paul Borisoff began teaching contemporary folk guitar in 1967 for Jerry Finn Music.  Lessons were given in the student's home.  Later Jerry opened Finn's Music Emporium in Sherman Oaks.  It was not long after that all the Borisoff youth were teaching a variety of different instruments for 'Uncle Jerry'.  Paul taught at many venues including L.A. Recreation and Parks, The Woman's Workshop, Every Woman's Village, The YMCA, and YWCA.  In addition, he taught photography after receiving his bachelors degree in Radio, Television and Film Communications from CSUN. L.A Recreation and Parks, LAUSD Inservice and Pierce College Community Adult hosted his Kung Fu classes; helping teachers and the community deal with the Hillside Strangler scare.  He has continued to teach Kung Fu over the past 44 years.


My Brother Stephen


From right to left, Grandma, Paul and Stephen

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!)

This was recorded circa 1970 with his Grundig reel-to-reel tape recorder.

David Borisoff - My Brother




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.)


Jason Borisoff  (David's son)
(Click here to listen to one of their tunes)

A Tribute...


... befallen by the back side of its proud player... now
enshrined as a wind chime!  There is life after wreckage.

"In the jingle, jangle morning, I'll come following you."  Bob dylan

[This instrument is in no way related to or crafted by Antonio Stadivari...
Scratch-a-various is a credit to the creative genius of Richard Patrick, whom
without, this violin would remain nameless and in obscurity.]

Sad to report... during the first rain the violin-windchime spontaneously
un-glued, never more to sing.


For more on Maestro's Family... More


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. 


(Click above to enlarge)