Herman Clebanoff

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Herman Clebanoff (May 2, 1917 – January 13, 2004) was an American concert violinist and conductor.[1][2]


Herman Clebanoff was born on May 2, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois to his Russian immigrant parents. Starting violin lessons at the budding age of five, Clebanoff was seen as a child prodigy. Two years after receiving musical lessons, he had his first recital. Clebanoff's musical talents expanded throughout high school, when he acted as first chair violinist in a plethora of string quartets. Clebanoff was also an accomplished concertmaster. By the young age of 20,[3] Clebanoff had already achieved the status of Concert Master for the Chicago Civic Orchestra's, as well as being the Chicago Symphony's youngest member.

Personal life[edit]

Clebanoff met Helen Margolyne[4] while he was part of the Illinois Symphony. She was a soprano with the Chicago Civic Opera. Clebanoff and Margolyne married in 1940, just years before the United States would enter the Second World War. He and his family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1959 for him to have an opportunity to work with TV recordings and movies. Clebanoff and Margolyne have two daughters; Barbara Nufield and Carol Zamir; a son, Jerry; six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Clebanoff gave violin lessons to his granddaughter, Jennifer, who attends Boston University for medical school. Because of the distance and business, Jennifer would call Clebanoff and play violin over the phone. He would critique her and offer advice.

Music career[edit]

Herman Clebanoff has been described as a passionate musician. His son, Jerry, stated, "He was a driven person. He didn't play to making a living. He played because he was passionate about it" [5](Chicago Times). In 1939, Clebanoff joined the Illinois Works Progress Administration, or WPA, Symphony. Clebanoff took this opportunity to play to a wide and varied group of audiences. Although he took a leave of absence in 1943 to work for the New Orleans Orchestra, Clebanoff returned to Chicago in 1945, where he produced a string orchestra of his own: The Clebanoff Strings. Many pieces were created in collaboration with this orchestra. In 1958 he issued his first LP with Mercury "Moods in Music" featuring musette and his "echoing" violin to great success. He then recorded several marvelous film themes LPs with songs such as: Secret Love (featured in "Calamity Jane"), "Song from "Raintree County", "Wild Is the Wind", "A Certain Smile", and "The High and The Mighty." Clebanoff's music inspired a global following due to his unique style and superb musicianship. Clebanoff also worked with other a musicians including fellow Chicagoan Caesar Giovannini, a superb pianist, and Wayne Robinson as arrangers. Clebanoff is known for his love of creating and producing new music as well. By the mid-1960s Clebanoff's music had shifted from strict film and classic pop music to more modern popular music (pop) with limited success. He left Mercury and recorded only one album for Decca... the superb "Once Upon a Summertime."

Clebanoff is known for his interest in creating new pieces. He frequently made time to create these pieces despite the chaos going on around him. "Two weeks after we moved, he recorded a record in Paris. He loved the opportunity to go other places" Jerry Clebanoff said (Chicago Tribune).

Musical Works[6][edit]

Songs from Great Films Year Mercury 1958
Strings Afire 1962 Mercury
Accent on Strings 1962 Mercury
Today's Best Hits 1963 Mercury
Lush, Latin & Bossa Nova Too! 1963 Mercury
Lush, Latin & Bossa Nova Too! 1963 Fontana
Like Paganini 1967 Mercury
Besame Mucho 1994 Imagem
Besame Mucho 1994 Movieplay
A Film Concert By The Clebanoff Strings, Orchestra & Chorus Unknown Mercury
Country Music For People Who Don't Like Country Music Unknown Mercury
Moods in Music Unknown Mercury
Clebanoff Plays Great Songs of the Continent Unknown Mercury
Strings Afire Unknown Wing Records
Clebanoff Plays Songs from Great Operettas Unknown Mercury


  1. ^ "Herman Clebanoff, 86,". tribunedigital-chicagotribune.
  2. ^ "Herman Clebanoff, 86; Conductor and Violinist Led His Own Ensemble". latimes.
  3. ^ "Herman Clebanoff's Biography". www.last.fm.
  4. ^ "Clebanoff Herman,86". freenotes.
  5. ^ "Herman Clebanoff, 86,". tribunedigital-chicagotribune.
  6. ^ "Clebanoff And His Orchestra". Discogs.