When Glenn Dicterow, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, takes his place at the Thornton School of Music in 2014, his colleagues will not be strangers, but old friends.
“I go back a long way historically with a lot of the faculty,” Dicterow said. “I’ve known [Midori Goto] since she was a little girl. I’ve known Ralph Kirschbaum since we were teenagers. I’ve known Alice Schoenfeld since I was a child because her sister Eleanor was one of my chamber coaches.”
After a two-year search, USC announced Thursday that Dicterow would be the first person to hold the Robert Mann Endowed Chair in Violin and Chamber Music, honoring the founder and first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet. The move back to Los Angeles will mark the end of what will be a 32-year tenure with the New York Philharmonic.
“I will have had almost 40 years of orchestral playing and I’m ready for the next part of my life,” he said. “When I step down from the [New York Philharmonic], I’m not going into any other orchestra.”
Dicterow is no stranger to teaching, though. Despite a busy schedule of rehearsing and performing with the orchestra, he has regularly taught violin students at Juilliard and master classes at the Manhattan School of Music.
“I just have to fit it in between rehearsals when I have time,” he said.
Though the basics of his teaching will not change, he said he expects his students at USC to be different from his current students because Thornton, unlike Juilliard and MSM, is not a traditional conservatory.
“The conservatories here are different in the way that they function because the academics are not stressed as much,” he said. “I think what Thornton is trying to do is to make more an intellectual product. They encourage study in history, in philosophy and I think that’s great.”
What Dicterow will bring to students’ education is his expertise in performance, which began long before his time with the New York Philharmonic. He and his brother began playing violin when he was 8 years old. But his father, a violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was not always supportive of his sons’ potential.
“My father was actually not encouraging to us because, in those days, he realized how hard it was for a musician to make a living and he wanted something a little bit more secure,” Dicterow said. “I think because both my brother and I showed a pretty significant talent in that area, my mother encouraged us and practiced with us.”
Dicterow made his orchestral debut as a soloist with the L.A. Philharmonic at 11 years old, playing Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto in D Major.” He continued learning violin and sometimes attended master classes taught by famed violinist Jascha Heifetz at USC. He also continued performing and decided to attend Juilliard with several more years of solo performance experience in many major orchestras under his belt.
“Performance is a part of what you teach and how you come across in front of an audience and how you play — it’s a package,” he said. “It’s interpreting the music and delivering the message that you teach and how you come across in front of an audience and how you play — it’s a package,” he said. “It’s interpreting the music and delivering the message that you want from within and really finding your own voice.”
Dicterow’s career also includes time as both associate concertmaster and concertmaster of the L.A. Philharmonic, a guest soloist in many orchestras and international tours and several recordings for films including The Untouchables, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Interview with the Vampire.
He will spend the next two years balancing his time between the New York Philharmonic and teaching master classes at USC before returning to Los Angeles to begin teaching full-time in fall 2014.
He will make the move with his wife, Karen Dreyfus, a violinist and teacher at MSM, Juilliard and Mannes College, who will also join the Thornton faculty in 2014.