A violinist's violinist, Emanuel Hurwitz is one of Britain's most accomplished chamber musicians. He founded and served as co-leader of several important ensembles and has also had an extensive career as an educator and symbol to young musicians throughout the world. This doesn't mean that anyone has learned to spell his name, however. He is frequently identified as "Emmanuel," a mistake that has extended to many album liner notes, concert programs and college bulletins. It has even led to speculation that there are two violinists involved in maintaining his incredibly busy schedule.
He has been associated with the Royal Academy of Music in London for decades as a teacher, and also received his early training there. Hurwitz was part of the generation of British classical musicians most profoundly affected by the second World War. Maintaining a consistent level of study or having the opportunity to train in established orchestras or chamber ensembles were hardly priorities for society at large in the aftermath of such devastation. Many of the British classical orchestras were either temporarily or permanently defunct. Musicians and music college students such as Hurwitz were often drafted and wound up playing with military bands. Following the war, one way Hurwitz filled in his schedule and created income was by performing light music and in gypsy orchestras. It could hardly have seemed insulting since one of his violin heroes, Alfredo Campoli, had done exactly the same thing. As did some of Hurwitz's peers: on a given night he might be sitting next to players such as Jack Rothstein or James Blades in a so-called salon orchestra.
This isn't to say that he neglected his classical ambitions. He founded the Hurwitz String Quartet and began more than 20 years as leader of the English Chamber Orchestra, with whom he frequently appeared as soloist and conductor. During this time he was a co-founder and leader of the important Melos Ensemble, consisting of a pool of about a dozen musicians performing the neglected repertoire for enlarged chamber ensembles and creating an important discography of recordings including many premieres. He spent two seasons as leader of the New Philharmonia Orchestra under Otto Klemperer and Carlo Maria Giulini, sometimes directing the orchestra himself. For 11 years beginning in 1970 he was leader of the Aeolian String Quartet, touring and recording extensively, the latter word certainly not an exaggeration, as this discography includes the complete 22-CD set of Haydn string quartets, an item that has caused many a classical fan to overextend credit card limits.
As an educator he has established his own chamber music course and summer school in his native England. His teaching is certainly not limited to the UK, as he maintains a busy schedule of master classes and seminars from the Austrian Alps to the Canadian Rockies.