An introduction was arranged to Osip Ovzerovitch, concert master of the Vitagraph orchestra and himself an outstanding violinist who along with Yascha Heifetz, Efram Zimbalist, Mischa Elman and Nathan Milstein had been a student of Leopold Auer at the Imperial Conservatory in St. Petersburg Russia. At their first meeting, Osip was very impressed with the boy's playing. For young Paul it was a turning point in his life. For years thereafter, Osip not only became the young student's teacher, he became his mentor and friend as well.
In 1925, when Paul was five, he started kindergarten at a neighborhood school in Brooklyn but soon dropped out because he found in his new relationship with Osip he would want to study with him several times a week. So enthusiastic was he about his ability to make music he would get up at six in the morning go to the basement of his house and practice what Osip had taught him the day before. And then, that same afternoon, his mother would drive him to Osip's for an extended lesson.
When he was eight, he would sometimes take the trolley car with his sister, who was ten. She would drop him off and go to visit their grandmother nearby. As Paul grew to know the conductors on the line, they grew to watch him to see that he stayed safe while he studied the music and read the daily newspaper.
All during those years and after, Osip's family played an important role in the artistic growth of the gifted violinist. As refugees from Russia, where their home had been set on fire during the revolution, they fled to Turkey with nothing but Osip's precious Guadagnini violin. There they lingered for several months while Osip earned enough money playing the violin to pay for steamship tickets to the U.S.
In time Paul learned to understand and speak Russian. He also listened to Osip play chamber music and even prepare music for Osip's commercial Videograph work. In all, Paul was soon swept into the world of music on the bow of his beloved violin. Osip was a most demanding and stern teacher, who had no regard for the fact that Paul was just a child. He demanded that Paul quickly accomplish what he thought were important musical goals and objectives. He taught Paul with all the nuances and variations of playing the violin, just as he had been taught in Russia.
Osip soon recognized that Paul had the potential to become an important artist and he started to mold Paul, as he himself had wished to be. After several months, Osip told Paul's parents that since he was convinced Paul had the potential to be a great violinist, he was willing to give up all his other pupils and concentrate all his energies and talent to develop Paul into the great artist he would become.
One of Paul's father's great loves was opera; music meant a great deal to him and there was nothing that he wouldn't do for his children. Fortunately, Paul's father was a successful business man and told Osip that he would find the money to pay him a weekly income to have him nourish Paul's talent. Osip gave up all his other teaching activities and started to come to Paul's home every day except Sunday and stayed with him from early in the morning till evening.
After three years, Osip advised Paul's parents that his young protege would soon be ready to give concerts. Because Russian artists were taken more seriously, it was decided to have Paul have a Russian sounding name and perform with the stage name Paul Musikonsky.
his career by giving complimentary performances at orphanages,
charitable institutions and schools, to give him the necessary
and to become accustomed to playing before large audiences.
were made for Paul to audition for the composer Deems Taylor and Henry
Hadley the conductor of the Manhattan Symphony Orchestra. Hadley was
by his playing and engaged him to perform with the orchestra. All the
critical reviews were fabulous, such as:
York Herald Tribune
"Musikonsky displayed technical dexterity, thorough command; tasteful and musicianly interpretation"
went on a concert tour throughout Canada with following critical
from some major cities.
"His bowing was free and his double stopping very remarkable"
"Paul Musikonsky, genius, gives amazing violin recital for Ottawa audience. Invaluable asset of absolute pitch. Tone was clear, sweet, beautifully even, intellectual grasp...artistic genius...brilliant performance"
After returning from the very successful tour throughout Canada, Paul then gave a recital in Carnegie Hall and the New York music critics declared that they were astonished by the obvious musical gifts that Paul displayed. Again the concert received great critical notice, such as:
"A violinist of solid and laudable attainments"
"Violinist astonishes Carnegie Hall audience"
"Has imagination and beauty which is one of the qualities of a genius"
to the glowing critiques of young Musikonsky's performances, newspapers
everywhere became very interested in his career and predicted he would
be the next Yehudi Menuhin. In response his career and travels soared.
It was the first ocean voyage of many for Paul. He loved traveling, eating at the Captain's table and performing for the passengers. His first trip across the Atlantic on the USS Pilsudski was particularly memorable, because after four days the ship ran into a severe storm and was in a perilous state causing the captain to sail in the opposite direction for two days. The ship was rolling to such a degree, that very few passengers could stand or go to the dining room to eat, except Paul who loved the excitement and was the only one that could eat. When the ocean calmed down, Paul gave a concert for his fellow passengers.
concert management agency Van Wyck arranged concerts in all the major
of Europe and the concerts were a great success. The European
press critical reviews were even more glowing than in America, such as:
"Everything is natural and unspoiled about him - even his art. Music is in his name, and music is in his whole being"
"Paul Musikonsky, violin virtuoso, possesses an inborn musical feeling, beautiful vibrant tone and extraordinary bow arm"
"His technique, musical ability and sense of time appears to be inborn"
"With the fresh charm of a strong young tree, he stands upon the platform and plays in a manner to astonish his audience. His tone is angelic"
Before Israel was a nation, Palestine became the mecca for some of the great artists who were fleeing Europe for safety in Palestine and Paul was invited to perform there and toured Palestine three times in 1934, 1936 and 1938. The poster is similar to hundreds of posters that were attached to outdoor Kiosks advertising concerts, because in the 1930’s, there was no commercial radio or TV. Similar posters were also used in Europe, U.S. and Canada.
Through Google, Yahoo and E-Bay, there still are several different Paul Musikonsky (Paul Lennard) antique posters and programs from various concerts, being sold by collectors.***********************************************************
"When Paul Musikonsky plays, one's ear is caught by deep crystal clear sound and horizon wide song that penetrates one's soul"
"When Paul Musikonsky played his violin, I soared high on the wings of song. He lowered me into the depths, and upheaved me into the unknown"
"Paul Musikonsky has a great future. Music is a natural necessity for him. His career will meet not many like ones"
"Paul Musikonsky gave us a clear notion of his great abilities and I prophesy a great future artist"
returned to the U.S. with performances throughout the U.S. and again in
Carnegie Hall with Emanuel Bay, the accompanist of Yascha Heifetz.
He was invited again to return to play in Palestine in 1938 with its symphony orchestra and in recitals. The Palestine Symphony Orchestra (later it changed its name to the Israel Philharmonic) now was enlarged with many prominent Jewish musicians who fled Germany and Austria including Bronislav Huberman who had invited Auturo Toscanini to conduct. Paul appeared in several concerts (in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa) as soloist to great critical reviews.
in the winter of 1938 and 1939 Paul again toured throughout Europe
the Brahms, Vieutemps and Beethoven concertos as well as the major
While performing in Europe and living in Warsaw, war rumblings became
intense after Hitler invaded the Sudatenland and it was decided that he
should leave Europe and return to the U.S.
In 1940-41 Paul gave concerts in the U.S.A. until he received a military draft notice. The draft board offered him a choice to become a member of the U.S. Navy Band, which he declined. Paul had a friend, who was a writer and was drafted into the Navy Recruiting Bureau to write 'The Navy Needs You' radio scripts. He told Paul that he would introduce him to the head of the Naval Intelligence of the Third Naval District. That possibly they would be interested in Paul because he spoke French and Russian and traveled extensively in Europe and the mid-east.
Paul's background was of interest to them and he entered the U.S. Naval Reserve on active duty before Pearl Harbor and was recruited to go to school to become a cryptoanalyst in the Naval Intelligence. He was sent to Hunter College in New York City to learn about the use of "the frequency of language used in codes," but Paul did not like sitting in a classroom and wanted more physical activity. He heard that the Navy was recruiting photographers from major magazines like Life Magazine, Coronet and Look Magazine to get involved in a new photographic group that was being formed. Because of his keen interest in photography and his past experiences taking his own pictures in his travels, and his ability to develop film and print and enlarge pictures, he requested a transfer to be assigned to the new photographic group.
assigned to the Atlantic Fleet Camera Party and was sent to a sea going
ship the USS Alcor, where he got training and instruction on using and
working with some of the very first color photography. He was then
at sea to a photographic group that went from ship to ship and did the
triangulation testing of the military cannons on naval vessels and on
ships that were in military convoys going to England and Russia. Later
in the war, he was assigned to Texas A&M doing photography on
work of Radar and then was assigned as a photographer flying on fixed
aircraft and then on 'Lighter than Air' Blimps.
On his way to a rehearsal in Copenhagen with his violin, a freak accident on a train that hit a car broke Paul's elbow and wrist as well as tearing the tendons and ligaments of his left hand and arm. He developed severe calcification and returned to the U.S. with a plaster cast that stayed on for several months. Because the left hand of a violinist is vital to his playing, Paul was left with a permanent disability and was forced to redirect his life.
spends a great deal of time and effort assisting other young musicians
to achieve the potential of their own talents.