Israelis You Should Know: Ilona Feher

The Fellowship  |  December 2, 2016

Lived: December 1, 1901 – January, 1988)

Known for: A world-renowned violinist, Ilona Feher survived the Holocaust and made aliyah (immigrated) to Israel to become an equally famous violin teacher.

Why you should know her: Born to a Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary, Ilona Feher was a violin prodigy, studying at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music. Before World War II, Ilona performed all over Europe. However, when the Nazis ran rampant across the European continent, Ilona and her daughter were sent to a concentration camp in 1942. Two years later, the two were able to escape, joining Hungarian and Czech partisans in the fight against the Nazis until liberation. After the war, Ilona returned to the concert stage, performing across Eastern Europe.

In 1949, Ilona at last made aliyah to Israel, where she began a new career teaching violin. She became known as an inspired teacher – one who used discipline as well as humor. Over her long career, her list of famous students included Pinkas Zukerman, Shlomo Mintz, Hagai Shaham, Ittai Shapira, Moshe Hammer, Yehonatan Berick, Shmuel Ashkenasi, David Erlich, Ron Ephrat, Yaakov Rubinstein, and Yoel Levi. In addition to teaching in the Holy Land, Feher also taught master classes across the globe and judged many international competitions.

Among the many honors and awards given to Ilona Feher were the Golden Medal and Diploma of the Franz Liszt Academy, an honorary doctorate from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and Honorary Citizen of Holon, her Israeli hometown.

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