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Julius Schulman; Violinist for Many Orchestras Also Played for Films, Books

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Julius Schulman, a professional violinist who provided background music and consultation for the written works of his son, J. Neil Schulman, has died. He was 84.

The elder Schulman died Saturday of heart failure at Brotman Hospital in Culver City, his son said. Schulman had also suffered from diabetes and pneumonia.

An avid reader of science fiction, the renowned violinist served as musical consultant for his son’s 1983 science fiction novel involving a musician, “The Rainbow Cadenza.”

Schulman also provided the solo violin performances for a 1980 Pacifica radio network production of his son’s short story, “The Musician,” and was musical consultant for his son’s 1986 screenplay, “No Strings Attached.”

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Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Julius Schulman took up the violin at age 5, made his Carnegie Hall debut at 8 and thought nothing of roller-skating to lessons, violin case in hand.

The young prodigy studied at Juilliard School of Music in New York and later at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. While taking classes at New York University, he played saxophone with big bands on cruise ships.

On graduation from Curtis in 1937, Schulman became the youngest member of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski and participated in recording the soundtrack for Walt Disney’s landmark musical animation film “Fantasia.”

After a decade with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and participating in USO shows during World War II, Schulman moved home to New York in 1947 to become concertmaster and featured violin soloist of the WOR Mutual Network Symphony Orchestra, a position that lasted until the group disbanded in 1954. The next year, he became the only classical musician ever to win the live television Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts competition.

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Schulman later served as concertmaster of the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra and of New York’s Little Orchestra Society, before accompanying Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic on its 1960 world tour to Europe, the Middle East and the Soviet Union.

The violinist spent the next decade in Boston, performing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops. He was also concertmaster of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and first violinist of the Stockbridge String Quartet. For several summers, he played at the Tanglewood Festival in Massachusetts and was concertmaster of the Chautauqua Festival Orchestra in upstate New York.

Schulman played with the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra from 1970 to 1975, and then finished his career with 15 years as concertmaster of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra.

Adaptable as an entertainer, Schulman joined Jack Benny and Red Skelton in comedy sketches during their appearances with the Boston Pops. In Texas, he participated in similar routines with Danny Kaye and PDQ Bach creator Peter Schickele.

For most of his career, Schulman performed on a violin made by the Guarneri family in 1716.

Schulman moved to Culver City in 1997. In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife of 56 years, Betty; a daughter, Margaret; two brothers and two sisters; and one granddaughter.


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