Obituary published in Los Angeles Times on Sep. 22, 2015
Jimmy Getzoff (December 3, 1921 - September 20, 2015) passed away peacefully in his home in Marina del Rey. Jimmy was a child prodigy, giving his first concert at the age of 6. At the age of 18 he became the youngest member of the L.A. Philharmonic. He continued his symphonic work as concertmaster of the Glendale Symphony under Carmen Dragon for 25 years. The bulk of his work, however, was working commercially in Hollywood. He worked as violinist or concertmaster at all of the major motion picture studios. He has been concertmaster for Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Barbra Streiand, the Carpenters, David Gates, and Neil Diamond, among many others. He worked with top Hollywood arranger/conductors including Nelson Riddle, Van Alexander, Billy May, Tom Newman, Steve Dorff, Don Costa, Ralph Carmichael, and Marty Paitch. Jimmy Getzoff was a major figure in the Hollywood musical community, highly respected and well liked by his colleagues. He set a goal to experience all the musical challenges that Hollywood had to offer and he can say he did it all. Jimmy is survived by his wife, Paula Getzoff of 44 years, his daughter and husband Janice and Jeffrey Rakoff, his grandchildren David and Lea Rakoff, and Anne and David Kressel, nieces and nephews, wonderful caregivers and many friends. Services will be held on Thursday, September 24th at Hillside Memorial Cemetery at 1:00pm. In lieu of flowers please donate to the charity of your choice.
Metacritic Biography: James Getzoff
Brilliant Hollywood violinist, James Getzoff, known to his fans and colleagues as "Jimmy," is a veteran member of one of the world's most distinguished groups of musical artists – the concertmasters and violin soloists of the Hollywood Studios. This very small circle of virtuoso violinists are the equal of our great concert artists, but choose a world of relative anonymity in exchange for the tremendous variety of musical experiences that Hollywood offers.
Like many virtuosos, Jimmy was a child prodigy. He did not come from a musical family, but when he was four years old a neighbor's violin playing fascinated him. On a whim, the neighbor suggested that Jimmy try it out. Miraculously, he was able to produce quite a credible tone and play a melody. Soon, the family discovered he had perfect pitch and figured that music might be his future. He took lessons and by age seven was presented in recital. Jimmy played in various amateur orchestras and entered a contest to win the opportunity of studying with the famous Los Angeles Philharmonic Violinist and teacher Bonislaw Gimpel. At age 18, he became the youngest member ever to win a position with the Philharmonic.
Jimmy was on his way to what promised to be a big career in the classical music world; however, having been born and raised in Los Angeles, he was fascinated by the wider world of music in films, radio, television, and recordings. He set a goal to become one of the legendary Hollywood concertmasters. His first opportunity came when a Capitol Records producer heard him play at a symphony concert and recommended him for a record date. Recording work requires both flexibility and nerves of steel. He proved himself and quickly got into the group of "First Call" players who are in constant demand.
Jimmy continued his symphonic work as concertmaster of the Glendale Symphony under Carmen Dragon for 25 years, appearing as soloist in many concerts at The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center. With symphony and recording orchestras, he has played under conductors Arturo Toscanini, Leopold Stokowski, Leonard Bernstein, Eric Leinsdorf, Sir Thomas Beecham and Zubin Mehta. He recorded the nine Beethoven symphonies under Bruno Walter and The Firebird under Igor Stravinsky.
The bulk of his work, however, was in the highly demanding and exacting commercial world of Hollywood. He was under contract with Paramount Pictures for ten years. Jimmy also worked as violinist or concertmaster on major motion pictures at Universal, MGM and 20th Century Fox as well as many independent studios working with such picture scoring giants as Franz Waxman, Bernard Hermann, Alfred Newman, Victor Young, Maurice Jarre, David Raksin, Miklos Rosza, Lalo Schifrin, Dimitri Tiomkin, Jerry Goldsmith, and Johnny Green.
In the recording world he has been concertmaster for Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Barbra Streisand, the Carpenters, Bing Crosby, David Gates, and Neil Diamond among many others. He has worked with the top Hollywood arranger/conductors including Percy Faith, Nelson Riddle, Van Alexander, Billy May, Frank De Vol, David Rose, Don Costa, Gordon Jenkins, Jeff Alexander, Ralph Carmichael, Nick Perito, and Marty Paich.
Although the public has heard Jimmy's violin countless times, his work has been behind the scenes with the exception of 1959 and 1961 when he was concertmaster of the Lawrence Welk Orchestra on television and was featured on a popular recording of violin solos from the show. He later was concertmaster for many television specials including Dean Martin, Carol Burnett and the Carpenters. He enjoyed the excitement of live television as well as making recordings in the days when the star vocalist would be right in the studio working with the orchestra.
Jimmy's violinist hero is Jascha Heifetz. Heifetz heard Jimmy play when he was 16 years old and wrote a very complimentary letter. Many years later at a dinner gathering Heifetz asked, "Do you still practice?" Jimmy laughed, "I have to. I have a mother who still thinks I play better than you do." His choice to opt for variety in music has been a fulfilling one. He says, "I prefer classical music when I am listening just for enjoyment (his favorite composer is Brahms), but I also enjoy people like Streisand and Linda Ronstadt. What I deal with is music. Anything that is enjoyable doesn't need categories or labels – it's all good and important."
Jimmy's avocation is boating. He has been the owner of a 36 ft. Uniflight boat named Symphony at Sea. He often practiced the violin onboard, "That way, Symphony at Sea means something really special." Jimmy lives with his wife of 40 years, Paula, near the beach in Southern California. James Getzoff has become a major figure in the Hollywood musical community, highly respected and well liked by his colleagues. When still a teenager, he set a goal to experience all the musical challenges that Hollywood had to offer and now looking back he can say that he Did It All.
1988 Street of Dreams (TV Movie) (music consultant - as Jimmy Getzoff)
1988 Whisper Kill (TV Movie) (music consultant - as Jimmy Getzoff)
1987 Black Widow (musician: violin - uncredited)
1986 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (musician: violin - uncredited)
1976 Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (musician: violin - uncredited)
1964 The Carpetbaggers (musician: violin - uncredited)
1964 Seven Days in May (musician: violin - uncredited)
1962 Who's Got the Action? (musician: violin - uncredited)
1961 The Comancheros (musician: violin - uncredited)
1961 The Pleasure of His Company (musician: violin - uncredited)
1961 Master of the World (musician: violin - uncredited)
1960 Visit to a Small Planet (musician: violin - uncredited)
1958 The Geisha Boy (musician: violin - uncredited)
1958 The Matchmaker (musician: violin - uncredited)
1958 Hot Spell (musician: violin - uncredited)
2007 Lawrence Welk's TV Treasures (TV Movie documentary) (special thanks)
1961 The Lawrence Welk Show (TV Series)
- A Salute to World War I Veterans (1961) ... Self
- Episode #6.44 (1961) ... Self
- A Musical Welcome to Summer (1961) ... Self - violinist
- Episode #6.32 (1961) ... Self
- Episode #6.19 (1961) ... Self - violinist