the Nightingale’s Sonata

Narrative Timeline


PLEASE NOTE: For characters whose names appear more than once, the first time the name appears, both the first and last names are provided in bold.  Thereafter only one name is provided.


Creation of the Pale of Settlement in the Russian Empire


César Franck begins writing a sonata for violin and piano but abandons it


Emancipation of the serfs in Russia


Zemstvo reforms allow limited self-government in the Russian provinces


Birth of Onissim Goldovsky in Vilnius


Birth of Katherine (“Gitel”) Katzman, Odessa (Lea’s mother)


Gitel marries Saul Luboshutz

Reformist Tsar Alexander II assassinated by terrorists; pogroms follow


Birth of Lea Luboshutz in Odessa to Gitel and Saul


Franck completes the violin sonata and dedicates it to Eugène Ysaÿe who plays the first performance at his own wedding

Onissim spends the summer in Bryansk and is jailed for writing a letter critical of the authorities


Birth of Anna Luboshutz (Lea’s sister)

Onissim graduates from Moscow Imperial University Law Faculty and begins practicing law


Onissim meets Rashel Khin through legal work for her family


Birth of Pierre Luboshutz (Lea’s brother)


Lea begins violin studies with Emil Mlynarski in Odessa


Gitel takes Lea to Moscow to study at the Moscow Conservatory


Onissin marries Rashel


Lea graduates from the Moscow Conservatory, winning the Gold Medal

Lea meets Onissim; they play the Franck sonata together; he agrees to become her patron


Lea spends the summer in Belgium studying with Ysaÿe

Anna begins her cello studies at the Moscow Conservatory 


January: Tsarist troops massacre unarmed protesters in St. Petersburg, triggering uprisings across the Russian Empire

November–December: Onissim and Rashel decamp to Paris with Rashel’s son (Misha); Lea joins them


Onissim, Rashel, Misha, and Lea return to Moscow

Onissim writes numerous important publications including Against the Death Penalty and The Jews of Moscow


Onissim and Lea’s son Yuri Goldovsky is born

October: Lea goes on tour to New York appearing in Carnegie Hall; her performance schedule is cut short owing to her discovery that she is again pregnant

Pierre begins piano studies at the Moscow Conservatory


Onissim and Lea’s second son, Boris Goldovsky, is born

Anna graduates from the Moscow Conservatory, winning a Gold Medal


Onissim divides his residence between Rashel’s and Lea’s apartments

March: Onissim and Rashel go to London

The Luboshutz Trio plays concerts across Russia


Anna and Lea play at Tolstoy’s memorial service in Moscow


Onissim purchases a Moscow mansion as residence for him and Rashel in part to help save his marriage

Anna marries Nikolai Shereshevsky


August: Germany declares war on Russia


Anna and Nikolai’s twin children, Nadezhda and Sergei, are born


February: Revolution breaks out in St. Petersburg

March: Tsar Nicolas II abdicates

October: Vladimir Lenin returns to St. Petersburg from exile

November: The Bolsheviks announced that they have seized power; they nationalize all banks and industry, as well as abolishing private property 

December: The Bolshevik secret police, the CHEKA, is created; there are mass arrests of aristocrats, professionals, and non-Bolshevik political activists; Onissim called in for questioning

December: Onissim and Lea’s daughter, Irina Goldovsky, is born


July: The Tsar and his family are murdered in Siberia

Lea, Pierre, and Boris play “workers’ concerts”


Anna plays for Red Army units in the Russian Civil War

Lea takes Yuri, Boris, and Irina to Odessa to stay with her parents


Anti-Bolshevik “White” forces are defeated by the Red Army in most of Russia

Lea brings Yuri and Boris back to Moscow; Gitel follows with Irina


Onissim again called in for questioning; Lea and Onissim hatch a plan to leave Russia

Lea and Boris depart for Berlin on a concert tour with the idea that the rest of the family will follow when they can


January: Lea and Boris debut with the Berlin Philharmonic and secure management with the Wolff & Sachs agency


Death of Onissim in Moscow

Irina arrives in Berlin followed by Gitel and Saul


Lea is discovered in an affair with Leonid Kreutzer; decides to move to Paris

Boris begins studies with Artur Schnabel

Yuri matriculates at Moscow University at the age of 16 and decides to stay in Russia


January: Death of Lenin

Pierre joins the family in Paris

Lea appears with Fyodor Chaliapin at the Palais Garnier in Paris, plays Franck sonata; is invited to tour the United States by Sol Hurok who agrees to be her manager


Lea meets Josef Hofmann aboard ship and they perform the Franck sonata

Death of Saul

Lea plays New York debut of Prokofiev violin concerto at Carnegie Hall with Ernst von Dohnanyi conducting

Lea begins touring with Hofmann


Boris starts studying with Dohnanyi in Budapest

Pierre tours the United States with Efrem Zimbalist and others


Lea plays the Franck Sonata at the Curtis Institute of Music with Hofmann and is asked to join the faculty

Lea plays the Franck sonata with Hofmann at Carnegie Hall


Lea acquires the “Nightingale” Stradivarius with the confidential assistance of Aaron Naumberg

Irina arrives to reside permanently with Lea in the U.S.

Irina Goldovsky’s name anglicized to Irene

Gitel joins Lea to reside in the U.S. and take care of Irene


Mary Curtis Bok begins to develop the Curtis Institute summer colony in Rockport, Maine

August: Stock market crash triggers the Great Depression


Boris arrives in the United States and spends the summer with the family in Maine


Boris enters the Curtis Institute of Music

Yuri is named an Assistant Professor at the Bauman Technical University in Moscow

Pierre tours the United States with Gregor Piatigorsky

Pierre marries his piano student Genia Nemenoff and they move permanently to New York

Birth of Dmitri Goldovsky (Lea’s first grandchild), the son of Yuri and Natalya Goldovsky, followed almost immediately by the death of Yuri in a mountain climbing accident


Irene meets Walter (“Billy”) Wolf, a Philadelphia businessman, after one of Lea’s concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra


Anna recognized as an Honored Artist of the Russian Federation

Irene marries Billy

Boris marries Margaret Codd, an opera singer who studied at the Curtis Institute


Lea and Irene become U.S. citizens


Pierre and Genia give their first duo-piano concert as Luboshutz & Nemenoff, beginning a long and successful joint career


Summer: Genia’s parents, Aaron and Marie Nemenoff, visit from Paris


Anna honored by the Moscow Philharmonic

September: World War II breaks out


Boris invited by Serge Koussevitzky to join Tanglewood faculty in Boston Symphony Orchestra Berkshire Music Center summer program in Western Massachusetts

June: Death of Gitel

November: Lea performs the Beethoven triple concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra with two other female soloists


Efrem Zimbalist becomes Director of the Curtis Institute


Boris moves to Boston to work at Harvard University, the New England Conservatory, and the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, spending summers at Tanglewood


Genia’s parents, Aaron and Marie, are rounded up in Paris and deported to Auschwitz where they are murdered

Birth of Andrew (“Andy”) Wolf (Irene’s son; Lea’s grandson)


The Curtis Institute’s Rockport summer program closes; Lea purchases Mary-Lea Cottage in Rockport and spends the remaining summers of her life there

Birth of Thomas (“Tom”) Wolf (Irene’s son; Lea’s grandson)

November: Lea plays her final concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra


Boris establishes the New England Opera Theatre


Anna gives her final concert and retires

Lea retires from teaching and concertizing


Nikolai Shereshevsky is arrested in Moscow on trumped-up charges of being involved in the “Doctors’ Plot” to murder Soviet leaders

March: Death of Stalin; Nikolai and others implicated in the “Doctors’ Plot” are released


Lea plays a post-retirement recital with Boris at the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston

Boris wins a Peabody Award for his radio show

Dmitri and Natalya’s daughter, Marina Dmitrovna Goldovsky, born in Moscow, Lea first great grandchild


February: Lea plays in public for the last time at an event celebrating her 70th birthday in Philadelphia accompanied by Boris

Soviet violinist David Oistrakh tours the United States and visits Lea, bringing news of Anna


Irene suffers nervous breakdown

Boris, Pierre, and Genia tour with their Three-Piano Mozart Festival concerts


Andy Wolf and Tom Wolf play their first joint recital


Death of Nikolai

Tom and Andy Wolf establish the Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine


Tom debuts with the Philadelphia Orchestra

Andy leaves Columbia University and is accepted into the Curtis Institute of Music by Rudolf Serkin

August: Andy plays his first performance of the Franck Sonata in Maine


Andy debuts with the Philadelphia Orchestra

Andy plays first concert in Carnegie Hall


Death of Lea


The Nightingale Stradivarius is sold to Lea’s pupil, Rafael Druian, concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra


Anna is honored with a public ceremony in Moscow, hosted by Mstislav Rostropovich


Death of Pierre

Tom joins Boris’ opera company as flutist and touring manager


Anna dies in Moscow


Andy begins touring with major international artists leading to his association with violinist Isaac Stern


Boris is named head of the Opera Department at the Curtis Institute of Music


Boris publishes his autobiography, My Road to Opera


Andy plays Franck sonata with Isaac Stern at Carnegie Hall


January: Andy plays Franck sonata at White House with Isaac Stern

Boris retires

May: Andy diagnosed with a brain tumor


January: Andy plays the Franck Sonata in Boston for the last time

December: Death of Andy


Death of Genia


Irene travels to Moscow and meets Goldovsky family members but does not locate the Luboshutz family


Marya Fogel (Irene’s granddaughter) meets Anna Luboshutz and Nikolai Shereshevsky’s daughter (Nadezhda Pugachevich), granddaughter (Nina Yuriev), and great granddaughter, (Svetlana Kuzin) in Moscow


Nina and Svetlana visit the Lubushutz-Wolf family in the United States


Death of Boris


Death of Billy


Death of Irene

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The Luboshutz family circa 1911   From left to right: Lea with Boris, Katherine (“Gitel”) with Yuri, Pierre, and Anna Luboshutz. Courtesy of the Luboshutz-Goldovssky-Wolf family archive.

The Luboshutz family circa 1911
From left to right: Lea with Boris, Katherine (“Gitel”) with Yuri, Pierre, and Anna