Born: January 20, 1857 - New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Died: May 6, 1937 - New York City, New York, USA
The American violinist, conductor and arranger, Sam Franko, studied the violin in Berlin with Joseph Joachim, Heinrich de Ahna and Eduard Rappoldi, as well as with Henri Vieuxtemps, among others.
Returning to the USA in 1880, Sam Franko joined the Theodore Thomas Orchestra in New York, and was its concertmaster from 1884 to 1891. He also played with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1883 he toured the USA and Canada as a soloist with the Mendelssohn Quintette Club of Boston. In order to prove that prejudice against native orchestra players was unfounded, he organised in 1894 the American Symphony Orchestra, using 65 American-born performers. With this group he gave many American premieres. This orchestra was later used for his Concerts of Old Music (1900-1909). In 1910 he went to Berlin and taught at the Stern Conservatory. He returned to New York in 1915.
Sam Franko published for piano: Album Leaf (1889); Viennese Silhouettes (a set of 6 waltzes, 1928); etc.; several violin pieces; practical arrangements for violin and piano. He arranged 17th- and 18th-century music, and transcribed numerous pieces for the violin or violin and piano. The set of cadenzas he wrote for Mozart's Violin Concerto in G-major K. 216 has become a standard part of the concert repertoire, more so than all of the numerous other cadenzas that have been written for this piece. His memoirs were published posthumously under the title Chords and Discords (New York, 1938).
Samís brother was the violinist, conductor and concert promoter Nahan Franko (1861-1930).