Jasha Bistritsky dies at 88

The founder of the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition and its director for many years Jasha (Jan Jacob) Bistritsky passed away on Thursday night at the age of 88. Born in Poland, Bistritsky came to Israel 37 years ago, bringing with him a unique experience of artistic management, as well as personal connections with leading international musicians. In his native Poland, he managed the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition soon after WW II, in which he participated as a Red Army officer. In Israel, he managed the Jerusalem Festival and later dedicated himself to the Rubinstein piano contest. Befriending the renowned pianist even before his immigration to Israel, Bistritsky convinced Rubinstein to lend his name to the new piano competition, which was inaugurated in 1974. For 30 years Bistritsky headed the competition, not only bringing outstanding international pianists to be its jury members but also being extremely active in fundraising and organizing concerts throughout the world. A small, charismatic man with very special Old World charm and manners, Bistritsky held the competition on his shoulders, and it was never easy. In his last years he suffered from a severe illness but never showed any sign of weakness or pain, exemplifying an essence of rare nobility.