Music: A Master

At first. Americans might have tended to discount the report as just another fantastic boast about Russia. Then the sto ries began to sound more reliable, and musicians looked East with wild surmise.

Eventually, as recordings crossed the Atlantic, a question was being asked seriously: Is Russia's David Oistrakh the world's finest fiddler?

His competition is almost entirely made up of his countrymen, for most of today's great violinists are Russian (and, by an odd cultural phenomenon, Russian Jews). Their names: Jascha Heifetz, Mischa Elman, Nathan Milstein, Isaac Stern and (of Russian parents) Yehudi Menuhin....

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