At first, retiring from the New York Philharmonic so soon didn’t seem like a remote possibility. Just about two years ago, faculty member Glenn Dicterow (B.M. ’71, violin), the longest-serving concertmaster of the Phil, was contacted regarding a brand-new position at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music: the Robert Mann chair of strings and chamber music. “It was very out of the blue—I hadn’t been thinking about leaving at all,” Dicterow told The Journal in a recent phone interview. “But then I started to think about it some more, and I thought, I’ll be turning that magic number, 65, this December, and maybe this is a great moment.”
And so Dicterow, who became the Philharmonic’s concertmaster in 1980, decided that he would step down this June and move back to his hometown, Los Angeles. On January 19, Juilliard, where Dicterow began teaching in 1987, and the Philharmonic will present a chamber music concert honoring him. The program includes nods to aspects of Dicterow’s illustrious bicoastal career and will start with him performing his fellow faculty member John Corigliano’s Violin Sonata with pianist Gerald Robbins. Corigliano composed the piece in 1962 and dedicated it to his father, John Corigliano Sr., who was the New York Philharmonic concertmaster for 23 years. Dicterow and Robbins will also perform selections from a work that represents the violinist’s California connections: storied Hollywood film composer Erich Korngold’s Much Ado About Nothing Suite (1918).
The Juilliard program will conclude with Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12 (“American”) performed by Dicterow and three Philharmonic colleagues, all of whom have Juilliard connections. They are violinist Lisa Kim (B.M. ’90, M.M. ’94), violist and chamber music faculty member Karen Dreyfus—who is Dicterow’s wife—and cellist Eileen Moon (B.M. ’91).
The Juilliard concert is just one part of a whirlwind series of “final” concerts for Dicterow planned with the music director of the Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert (Pre-College ’85, M.M. ’94, orchestral conducting), who’s also Juilliard’s director of conducting and orchestral studies. “Alan asked me, what would you love to perform in your last season?” Dicterow said. They settled on Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra in November, Ein Heldenleben (December 12–14), and Beethoven’s Triple Concerto (June 24–28) with Yefim Bronfman (’81, piano) and former faculty member cellist Carter Brey. “It’s a crazy season, but I was very honored and flattered that he wanted to do this. It’s going to be a tearjerker at the end after so long.”
While he won’t step down from the Phil until June, Dicterow is already spending a fair amount of time in Los Angeles. For one thing, his two granddaughters, one who was born this fall, both live there along with two of his four children. And he’s also started teaching at Thornton. (His position there, incidentally, was created to honor Robert Mann [Diploma ’38, violin], who was on the Juilliard faculty from 1946 to 2011 and is now faculty emeritus here.) Still, Dicterow will continue to be bicoastal, noting, “it’s in my DNA to be part New Yorker.” He will keep teaching his current Juilliard students until they finish—“and we’ll see what happens after that.”
Dicterow’s advice to all his students is that they follow their own bliss. And noting that he wouldn’t want “to produce generic musicians,” he added, “the best compliment is that my students don’t sound the same.”