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George Poinar (Conductor, Violin)

Born: May 15, 1910 - Tulca, Romania
Died: May 15, 1986 - Duxbury (suburb of Boston), Massachusetts, USA

George Poinar was born in Tulca, Romania on May 15, 1910 and came to this country in 1915 with his family where he lived in Akron, Ohio, as a child and teenager. His career was that of a violinist, teacher and conductor. He began studying the violin at the age of eight and by his early teens was playing for Romanian events and teaching the violin. In high school, he performed in city, state and national student orchestras.

George Poinar studied violin with Samuel Lockwood and Wassily Besekirsky at the University of Michigan in 1932. After receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in 1932 and a Master of Music in 1933, he moved to Spokane, Washington where he taught music at Whitworth College. He later became head of the music department there. In 1934-1935, he accepted a fellowship to study violin under Hans Letz at Juilliard. He returned to Whitworth, founded the Spokane Symphony orchestra in 1936, and then took on the task of music director for radio stations KGA and KPFY.

His love of Bach led him to accept a position at Baldwin-Wallace college in Berea, Ohio where the annual Baldwin-Wallace College Bach Festival was in its 7th year. He taught violin and ensemble, conducted and was head of the string department. He was the Musical Director (from 1952) of the annual Baldwin-Wallace College Bach Festival until early retirement in 1974. In 1961, Poinar travelled to Germany to visit all the places J.S. Bach lived and performed. Toward the end of his career, Poinar and the Bach chorus received the Harriet Cohen International Medal of Excellence. Poinar also played viola in the Walden String quartet based in Cleveland, Ohio.

For 20 years, George Poinar and pianist Arthur Reginald gave sonata recitals throughout the East and Midwest. Their triumph was in a performance of the Third Violin Sonata of Georges Enescu performed at the Phillips Gallery in Washington, D.C. This piece is a musical portrait of Romanian peasants and expresses the passionate joys and sorrows felt during their lives. The second movement presents unbelievable emotions felt through harmonics that held the audience spellbound. A raving review by Paul Hume appeared in The Washington Post on November 10, 1953. Yehudi Menuhin had encouraged Poinar to study with Georges Enescu in Paris during the summers of 1938 and 1939. Some 30 years later, Poinar was a guest of the Romanian government during the Enesco Festival Concerts in Bucarest.

During the summers of 1948-1955, George Poinar conducted opera, orchestra and ensemble concerts at the Plymouth Rock Center of Music and Drama in Duxbury, MA. After retirement, Poinar taught and founded a string ensemble at the Cape Cod Conservatory of Music and Art in Barnstable, MA. His last years were spent in Duxbury until he died on May 15, 1986.

George Poinar after playing for the Commencement ceremonies at Baldwin-Wallace College, June, 1944 [01]

George Poinar with Arthur Reginald in George Poinar’s house in Berea in 1950. One of the few photos of Reginald or the two of them together. Notice the painting of Brahms playing the piano on the wall [03]


George Poinar, June 3, 1974 [02]

Source: George Poinar's son, George Poinar Jr. and his daughter, Martha Poinar Nygaard (December 2011)
Contributed by
George Poinar Jr. and Martha Poinar Nygaard (December 2011)

George Poinar: Short Biography | Baldwin-Wallace Festival Chorus & Orchestra | Recordings of Vocal Works | Baldwin-Wallace College Bach Festival

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