Remembering Emanuel Borok (1944-2020)

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra remembers its former Concertmaster Emanuel Borok who passed away on January 4, 2020. He is survived by his wife Marilyn and his children Sarah and MarK.

Emanuel Borok served the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as the Michael L. Rosenberg Concertmaster from 1985 to 2010. He led the section under three music directors – Eduardo Mata, Andrew Litton and Jaap van Zweden.  He could be seen virtually every season as a soloist with the DSO in iconic violin repertoire, newly written works and chamber music with his orchestra colleagues. Upon retirement, he was Distinguished Artist-in-Residence, Violin at the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, where he combined his teaching with performing, conducting master classes and adjudicating competitions. 

Borok had a distinguished career as a soloist, teacher, chamber musician and orchestral leader. Born and trained in the Soviet Union, he received his early musical instruction at the renowned Darzinya Music School in Riga, Latvia, and the Gnessin School of Music in Moscow. In 1964, he won the most important national violin competition in the former Soviet Union, and in 1971, he won the position of Co-Concertmaster in the Moscow Philharmonic. He immigrated to the United States in 1973. Before coming to Dallas, he served for 11 seasons as Associate Concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Concertmaster of the Boston Pops Orchestra. 

Borok made many solo appearances in Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and Venezuela and throughout the United States (including Carnegie Hall). His solo appearances included Bach’s Double Concerto with Yehudi Menuhin, Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante with Pinchas Zukerman and Brahms’s Double Concerto with Janos Starker; concerto and chamber music appearances at notable festivals such as the La Jolla Festival of the Arts in La Jolla; Montecito International Music Festival; Summit Music Festival; Settimane Musicale Senese in Siena, Italy; Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona, Italy; Gstaad Switzerland and others. His chamber music partners included such distinguished artists as Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Shlomo Mintz, Lynn Harrell, Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Christopher Hogwood, Joshua Bell, Ralph Kirshbaum, Cho-Liang Lin, Sarah Chang and Paul Neubauer as well as Principals of Berlin Philharmonic Hansjörg  Schellenberger and Daniel Damiano. Borok was also featured in the Distinguished Artists Recital Series at the 92nd Street Y in New York.

Borok performed on a 400-year-old Brothers Amati violin, made in 1608 in Cremona, Italy. In 2009, on the occasion of the violin’s 400th “birthday,” Borok traveled with his violin to Cremona and presented a concert for the people of the city, which was captured in the documentary A Cremona con Amore. In June 2010, Borok was invited to perform at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra during the Holland Festival under the direction of Jaap van Zweden. The occasion featured a violin concerto written by Alexander Raskatov and dedicated to Mr. Borok’s 1608 Brothers Amati violin. 

In addition to being a noted performer, Borok was also an internationally recognized and sought-after teacher. During his time at SMU he mentored countless top violinists, many of whom now make up the ranks of the world’s best ensembles. He mentored students at the Tanglewood Music Center, the Royal Conservatory and Academy of Music in London, the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena Italy and the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, among others.

“Manny was an incredible leader and player, and his loss is felt through generations of violinists,” said Kim Noltemy, Ross Perot President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family. He will be missed for his great musicianship and as an important part of the Dallas Symphony family.”