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Harry Lookofsky with Arturo Toscanini  

The Harry Lookofsky Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship fund was created in memory of Harry by the Lookofsky family in part due to their close friendship with Church Street School for Music & Art co-founder Lauri Bailey. Their belief in CSSMA’s mission of arts accessibility for students of all ages and skill levels, and two key experiences from Harry Lookofsky’s early life also played a role in the selection of

Church Street School.  

The first experience happened during The Great Depression. At that time, Harry's mother was no longer able to continue paying for his violin lessons. Fortunately, his teacher in Crêve Coeur, Missouri continued to teach him for free. This was an act of kindness that Harry never forgot.


The second experience was an annual music contest hosted by the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the St. Louis Symphony. The contest entailed students performing live on stage with the Symphony. Harry participated in this event, playing the solo of Lalo’s Symphonie Espaniole, and took first place which gave him the opportunity to go to Interlochen Music Camp (now called Interlochen Center for the Arts).  

Harry recognized that those formative experiences were made possible by support from teachers and charitable arts organizations. Creating this scholarship in Harry’s name at Church Street School serves as a way to honor those who made those opportunities possible for him and pay it forward to the next generation of violinists.  

Who is this scholarship for?

The Harry Lookofsky Memorial Violin Scholarship is for students ages

5 – 18 years with a demonstrated skill level and commitment to the study of the violin. This is a merit-based scholarship.  


"We appreciate that the mission of CSSMA is devoted to bringing music to people of all ages and levels, whether exposing them to the experience of music for the first time or giving them the opportunity to develop themselves further in their skill and expression. Harry was all about authenticity and quality. He was naturally musical, but he followed up by practicing—a lot!"

-- Sherry Lookofsky, Harry's Wife

How to Apply:

Students eligible for the Harry Lookofsky Memorial Violin Scholarship are nominated by their teachers.


Nominees must submit the following to our panel of judges to be considered:

  • A video audition

  • A letter of interest, written by the applicant in their own words, expressing why music, and this scholarship, are important to them.


A single prize, tuition for a full year of violin lessons at CSSMA, is given annually. 

Harry Lookofsky

Harry Lookofsky (October 1st, 1913 – June 8th 1998) was a talented and unique violin player whose career spanned musical genres, styles, and formatting, weaving together a unique artistic journey and voice that was distinct, and in many ways ahead of its time. 

Born in Kentucky, Harry began performing at a young age and was something of a local child star in St. Louis, Missouri, where his family moved in his early childhood. On Saturday nights, at age 12, his performances with a local trio were broadcast over the local radio station. Growing up Harry also performed with a local youth orchestra, and toured Missouri and Illinois on weekends.  


In 1934, after touring with dance and vaudeville orchestras through the early 1930s, Harry joined the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. He performed with the group for four years before heading to New York to join famed conductor Arturo Toscanini’s NBC symphony Orchestra. Harry played at NBC for 12 years before moving on to become concertmaster at the ABC Symphony from 1952 until the network eliminated their string section. During this time Harry was also a fixture at New York City jazz sessions, recording with musicians like Coleman Hawkins, Sarah Vaughan, Ben Webster, and Donald Byrd. 

Harry released a multitrack EP under his own name in 1954 titled Miricle in Strings. It was arranged by Quincy Jones who would go on to become a lifelong collaborator. Some of Harry's other credits include Marvin Gaye's "What’s Going On” (1970), Tony Bennett’s “Who Can I Turn To” (1964), and his own album Stringsville (1958), which is now touted as one of the foremost and singular jazz albums of its era despite being largely overlooked at the time of its release. Harry spent much of his later career as an active session musician, becoming the top contractor of studio musicians in NYC for many years. He died in 1998.

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