Performing Life is a richly illustrated biography of the internationally renowned violinist Ruth Posselt (1911–2007), tracing her career from her debut as a child prodigy at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1923 to her last appearances in the late seventies. This first-ever biography details Posselt’s struggles with the widespread gender bias against female violinists as well as the lesser-known prejudice of American audiences and managers against American-born virtuosos. But Performing Life focuses on Posselt’s achievements, especially her pioneering work in premiering and popularizing important works for the violin by twentieth-century composers such as E. B. Hill, Walter Piston, Samuel Barber, Paul Hindemith, Bohuslav Martinu, Aaron Copland, Vladimir Dukelsky (Vernon Duke), and others. Special attention is also given to Posselt’s decades-long record of performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Serge Koussevitzky and Charles Munch, as well as her musical partnership and marriage with Richard Burgin, concertmaster and associate conductor of the BSO for almost half a century.
Drawing from written and oral narratives, published and unpublished sources, personal reminiscences, conversations, and anecdotes, Diana Lewis Burgin, Posselt’s daughter, tells this exhilarating story of a trail-blazing female musician, through which an imagined mother-daughter dialogue murmurs continuously in the background.