Born in Stockholm to Russian parents on June 20, 1920, Paul Makanowitzky began violin studies at age four as a pupil of Ivan Galamian - who taught at the Russian Conservatory in Paris from 1924 to 1937 - and with Jacques Thibaud. Makanowitzky's recital debut in 1929 in Salle Gaveau, Paris, astonished the music world. Critics wrote that "the public expected a well-rehearsed puppet, and discovered a true musician." He was dubbed a prodigy among prodigies. What was most striking in the plethora of praise that followed his appearances throughout Europe were phrases rarely associated with child performers: "stupefying authority," "remarkable elegance," "sensitivity", "authority," "purity of style." Makanowitzky made his New York debut in 1937.
In 1942, still a Swedish subject, Makanowitzky volunteered, to the consternation of his managers and Galamian, to fight for America in World War II. In 1944 he was a gunner in B-24 planes bombing Eastern Europe from bases in Italy. His plane was hit and he bailed out over Rumania and was a prisoner of war for six months.
At war's end, Makanowitzky returned to the violin, rebuilding his career as a soloist and was soon engaged by USA leading orchestras under Pierre Monteux, Paul Paray, Vladimir Golschmann and Sergei Koussevitzky among others.
In 1954, Makanowitzky met Noël Lee. As a duo they concertized extensively between 1954 and 1964. The Boston Herald's P. C. Brooks praised them as: " The best ensemble playing to be found anywhere in the world." The duo recorded all the Bach, Beethoven and Brahms violin & piano sonatas.
In 1966, Makanowitzky accepted teaching posts at the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute and the Meadowmount School of Music. He was also a visiting professor at Brandeis University, Toho-Gaukuen in Tokyo and the Royal Conservatory in Toronto. He retired from performing in 1967 and joined the strings faculty of the University of Michigan where he served until 1983. He died on February 24, 1998 in Freeport, Maine.
American composer and pianist Noël Lee, was born in Nanking, China in 1924 of American parents who subsequently returned to Lafayette, Indiana, where he received musical education from the age of five. After studying at Harvard University interrupted by World War II and at the New England Conservatory of Music, he went to Paris in 1948 to continue his education under the guidance of Nadia Boulanger who proclaimed that: "Noël Lee is one of the finest musicians I have met. A true composer, he has delicacy and force, an acute understanding of the resources of his instrument, a scale of values and a total comprehension of the works".
As a concert pianist, Lee toured six continents. He has recorded 200 LPs and CDs, of which 14 have received the Grand Prix du Disque. In the United States, Lee has been a visiting professor at Brandies and Cornell Universities, and at Dartmouth College. He is still active, teaches piano in Paris and is regularly invited to present workshops on piano, chamber music and vocal repertoire.