YURI SHEYKHET, Violin
09/07/1933 – 06/07/2019
Yuri Sheykhet, who was known for his love of classical music and especially for violin, his quirky sense of humor and intellectual curiosity died on June 7th 2019 age of 85 in San Antonio due to complications from heart disease. Yuri was born in 1933 in Moscow, Soviet Union into the family of professional musicians, his father was the conductor of a jazz band in Moscow. The deprivations and horrors of the Second World War, growing up in Russia stayed with him his entire life.The joke in his family was that his parents had to come up with special treats to have him stop practicing.
He met his future wife Zina Khiger – fellow violinist in The Riga Conservatory while both were studying for Masters degree in violin performance. It took a lot of convincing but eventually Zina agreed to marry him. In 1961 daughter Anya was born and they decided to make her a pianist as two professional violinists needed a free accompanist in the family. Mark was born in 1973 and it was decided even before his birth – he was going to be a concert violinist.
Yuri’s dream came true when he won a violin position in the Moscow Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra in 1958, where he worked for over 40 years. Among the most memorable moments were the premier of Shostakovich’s Symphony #13 under the baton of Kirill Kondrashin, and accompanying Van Cliburn when he won the Tchaikovsky Competition. His job took him all over the world when the Soviet Union was a closed country and very few others in the Soviet Union had the opportunity to see the world. His jokes were soul food for his orchestra colleagues and over the years became a part of the orchestra’s culture.
He immigrated to the US after retiring from his orchestra position in 2001 and was very active as a musician in San Antonio as a part of the San Antonio Virtuosos piano quartet and through numerous students.
In later years despite developing health issues, he still would practice every day for hours and took his violin with him, even when he was hospitalized. The staff of Main Methodist to this day remembers the unforgettable picture of Yuri walking down the cardiology floor practicing his violin in the hospital gown not properly tied in the back. The biggest regret of his life was that he did not leave a professional solo recording on violin.
Yuri infused the love and art of music in his children and grandchildren. His daughter is a concert pianist with a doctoral degree in music and the founder and artistic director of the performing arts nonprofit Musical Bridges Around the World. His son is a concert violinist and a very talented visual artist. His grandson plays jazz piano for fun and his granddaughters take piano lessons. His grand daughters (7 and 9 year old) stole his heart in later years and took a rightful place next to his love for violin.