Let’s see … the new principal oboist and the new principal clarinetist of San Francisco Opera. The new second bassoonist of San Francisco Ballet. And so many others … under 30 seems to be the norm these days.

And now this …

High on the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s wish list for a new concertmaster was a violinist who could lead the group forward while connecting to its illustrious past.

No one envisioned the violinist also would connect to his own past in a remarkable way.

The PSO and its music director, Manfred Honeck, on Saturday announced the hiring of Noah Bendix-Balgley, 27, who is relatively unknown in the field but set the orchestra’s audition process on its head with his late entry into the competition. It turns out the American violinist is not the first in his family to play in the group.

“I was not aware of it until a few weeks ago — my great-grandfather, Samuel J. Leventhal, played in the PSO under Victor Herbert,” said Mr. Bendix-Balgley, who is living in Munich. “He played under Brahms in Leipzig, Germany, and joined the PSO as a 20-year-old in 1900, leaving in 1904.”

Wow. 27 years old an concertmaster of Pittsburgh. Pretty amazing!



  1. I hope it’s not a requirement? As someone who came to classical music late, all the contests for composers under 30 (or even 35) are unavailable to me.

    If “under 30″ becomes a requirement there’s no hope… (for me, anyway) (not saying there was any in the first place… )

  2. A lot of composition contests are for younger composers, Chip. Just like a lot of other contests have age limits. Not all, mind you, but there are a lot. Most oboe competitions are the same way.

    I’m not certain, though, that contests are a way to really make a name for one’s self.