Sheynkman, Emanuil | University of Illinois Archives
Emanuil Sheynkman (1939-1995), known to family and colleagues as "Misha," was a Russophone Soviet balalaika and mandolin player recognized for his orchestra, ensemble, and solo performances, as well as his original music arrangements for Russian folk instruments. Sheynkman was born in 1939 in Leningrad, USSR (contemporary Saint Petersburg, Russia). He first began lessons on the domra, a 3-stringed Russian folk instrument, as a child after World War II because they were offered for free at his neighborhood music school. He later studied the balalaika and mandolin, and completed his education at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory and the Mussorgsky Institute in Leningrad. By the late 1970s, Sheynkman had become a successful musician and instructor in the USSR where he served as a professor of music at the Mussorgsky Institute and soloist with the Leningrad Philharmonic. He was also the principal arranger for the Andreev Russian Folk Orchestra and became a popular national television star. Nonetheless, he emigrated from the USSR to the United States in 1978 because of perceived Soviet government restrictions on his artistic freedom.
He and his family initially immigrated to New York City, but eventually settled in settled in San Pedro, CA where Sheynkman performed at numerous Los Angeles nightclubs and arranged music for and performed with the Odessa Balalaikas. In 1982, Sheynkman began a long professional relationship with the University of Illinois Russian Folk Orchestra (UIRFO), which was then under the direction of John Garvey. For 12 weeks in early 1982, Sheynkman was appointed as a George A. Miller Visiting Professor of Music for the University of Illinois, and provided music instruction to the UIRFO's student dorma and balalaika musicians. That same year he also served as a guest conductor and performer for UIRFO concerts, and began arranging full orchestral scores for University's Russian orchestra. He continued arranging music scores for the UIRFO even after the conclusion of his tenure as visiting professor, and he completed forty-four different music arrangements for the UIRFO, including Karl King's "Pride of the Illini." Throughout the 1980s, Sheynkman returned frequently to Urbana-Champaign campus to perform with the UIRFO, including the Walter J. Kasura Memorial Concert that was held in May 1987. In addition to his work with the UIRFO Sheynkman arranged music for several film scores as well as an arrangement of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition for the Canadian Brass.