ZIMBALIST, EFREM (1889–1985), violinist and composer. Zimbalist was born at Rostov on Don, Russia, and received his earliest musical training from his father, a conductor, before studying at the St. Petersburg Conservatory with Leopold *Auer. He made his European debut with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1907. In 1911 he went to the U.S., making his American debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and became one of the most prominent violinists on the U.S. concert scene. In 1914 he married the singer, Alma *Gluck, who died in 1938. In the same year he married Mary Louise Curtis, the founder of the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, of which he became director in 1941. Zimbalist specialized in the history of early violin music. He composed the opera Landara (1956), orchestral and chamber works, songs, and One Hour's Daily Exercises for Violin (1918). He left the Jewish faith.
EFREM ZIMBALIST JR. (1923– ), U.S. actor, musician, and producer, was the son of Efrem Zimbalist by Alma Gluck but was not of the Jewish faith. He was born in New York where, in 1947 and 1950, he produced three operas by Gian-Carlo Menotti. The last, The Consul, won a Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics' Award. Early minor roles with the American Repertory Theater led to his Broadway debut in Hedda Gabler (1948). After the death of his wife in 1950, Zimbalist went into semi-retirement, working with his father. In 1954 he returned to acting, and as the lead in the television series "77 Sunset Strip," won popular acclaim.
G. Saleski, Famous Musicians of Jewish Origin (1949), 12–5; MGG, incl. bibl.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.