Instructor: Nancy Ellsworth, Violin

Nancy Ellsworth was born in Stockton, California the daughter of Physician surgeon Ellis Harbart and Professional vocalist, pianist and teacher Wilhelmina Harbart. Nancy started violin lessons at the age of three. She was drawn to the instrument when listening to her mother and violinist colleague rehearse for a series of recital performances at the College of the Pacific. Nancy listened to and imitated the violin playing of her mother’s friend. She had brought a small violin along as a joke but soon realized that Nancy should have proper violin lessons immediately.

So it was that Nancy’s first recital was given at the age of four on the stage of the Conservatory of the Pacific. With her mother as an expert accompanist she had the privilege of playing for many small audiences of various clubs and musical organizations.

Her teachers were Lucie Bruch, niece of Max Bruch, the German composer, Nathan Abas, then concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra; followed by Horace Brown, professor of violin at the College of the Pacific. From the age of fourteen throughout her years at Mills College, where Darius Milhaud was her composition teacher, she studied with Naoum Blinder, succeeding concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony. After graduating with a Bachelor of Music Degree she was accepted as a student of world-renowned violinist Efrem Zimbalist director of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pa. where she earned her artist’s diploma.

Nancy Ellsworth became a member of the Denver Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony through the next several years. She and her husband Mark Ellsworth, an accomplished violinist from Pittsburgh, established themselves as prominent figures on the Washington D.C. musical scene. They performed many duet recitals and sat as concertmaster and first violin of the National Gallery Orchestra for more than two decades.

Nancy became concertmaster of the Wolf Trap Orchestra when it opened its summer concert series in Virginia and assumed the same position with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra and The Washington Opera remaining in that position for twenty-five years.

Solo and premier appearances:

  • “Lyrics 1967“by Theodore Antonious commissioned by The Kindler Foundation for performance in recital at The Textile Museum and subsequent of readings of the composers works at Catholic University of America.
  • Chamber Concerts at the National Gallery of Art premiering new works.
  • Soloist at Gala Concert in SanFrancisco when the United Nations was established in 1948.
  • Second performance in the United States of the Shostakovich 2nd violin concerto and a subsequent performance for the United Nations Delegates on UN Day in 1968.
  • Many recitals with violist Ann Bickford on early-televised programs hosted by Guy Mariner and with the Denver Chamber Orchestra.

Influential Teachers:

Lucie Bruch, Naoum Blinder, Efrem Zimblist, Alphonse Onou, 1st violin of the Pro Arte Quartet, Horace Brown, Josef Roismann, 1st violist of the Budapest Quartet, Private Chamber Music coaching by Alexander Scneider 2nd violinist of The Budpest Quartet.Quartet coaching with the cellist William Primrose.