Henry Joseph Brahinsky was for many years a leading member of Dallas's musical community.
Henry was born January 6, 1917, in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants Nathan Brahinsky and Doris "Dasha" Shapiro Brahinsky. During Henry's childhood, he lived with his family in various locales, including Kansas City and St. Joseph, Missouri, and Wichita, Marysville, and Concordia, Kansas.
Henry began violin instruction in St. Joseph at age 8. After a brief time with his first teacher, Ben Alex, Henry commenced study with Joseph Kneer, a retired Boston Symphony violinist. He soon proved to be a young prodigy, winning numerous local, state, and regional contests, including gold medals for two consecutive years in National Federation of Music Clubs regional competition, which led to solo performances in Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. During his high-school years, Henry studied violin with Russell Webber, a noted string pedagogue, at the Kansas City Conservatory of Music, while attending Kansas City's Central High School for his academic subjects. For his senior year, Henry returned to his family in Marysville, Kansas, and graduated from Marysville High School in 1934.
Henry received a Presser Foundation Scholarship to continue his studies at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, where he studied violin with Emanuel Wishnow. During his college years, Henry played numerous recitals and was featured as a soloist with the University of Nebraska Symphony Orchestra, performing the Goldmark Violin Concerto. He was the concertmaster of the Lincoln String Ensemble and also played in the Kansas City Philharmonic and the Lincoln Symphony. In 1939, he played a series of programs at the New York World's Fair. Henry took several lessons with Jacques Gordon (concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony) and was selected in 1940 to play an audition for Leopold Stokowski. He earned a Bachelor of Music in Education degree from Nebraska in 1940.
Upon his graduation, Henry was appointed assistant concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, at the age of 23. The DSO ceased operations in 1942 due to the breakout of World War II. Henry served in the United States Army, seeing action in Europe as a private first class in an artillery unit of the Third Army, under the ultimate command of General George S. Patton. During the war, Henry played with USO shows as they passed through the areas where he was stationed. When the Dallas Symphony returned in 1945, Henry was appointed assistant principal second violinist. As a member of the DSO, Henry worked under the batons of music directors Jacques Singer, Antal Dorati, and Walter Hendl, and with noted guest conductors including Leopold Stokowski, Dimitri Mitropoulos, and Igor Stravinsky.
In 1948, Henry created the Dallas Junior Symphony Orchestra under the auspices of the Jewish Community Center and became its music director. Later that year he was named head of the JCC's entire music department.
In 1950, Henry married Muriel Silberman, a Dallas physician, with whom he would raise three sons, Martin, Gerald, and Eric, who all became professional violinists. In 1954, Henry ended his tenure with the Dallas Symphony. He became a full-time music teacher, at the same time remaining highly active as a free-lance performing musician and contractor. At the age of 40 he returned to school and in 1959 earned a Master of Music Education degree from North Texas State College (now the University of North Texas) in Denton.
Throughout his career Henry maintained a small but highly successful private violin studio. His most accomplished student, Jack Glatzer, was a winner at age 17 of the nationally prestigious Merriweather Post Competition in Washington, D.C., which led to a solo performance of a movement of the Brahms Violin Concerto with the National Symphony Orchestra; Jack would later be appointed concertmaster of the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Henry taught orchestra and instructed string-instrument classes from the elementary to high-school levels in many of the public schools in Dallas and also briefly served on the string faculty at Texas Woman's University in Denton. He was an active member of the Dallas Music Educators Association, for which he served a term as president, and of the Texas Music Educators Association. He also belonged to the Classroom Teachers of Dallas.
In 1941, Henry performed violin solos on a ten-week series of programs on WFAA-WBAP radio in Dallas. In the course of his career he served as concertmaster of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Richardson Symphony Orchestra, and the Casa Mañana Summer Musicals in Fort Worth and was also second concertmaster of the Fort Worth Opera Orchestra. He was a longtime member of and musician contractor for the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra. He was a member of the orchestra for the Dallas Summer Musicals for eleven seasons. He played shows regularly for the Ice Capades and for the Venetian Room at the Fairmont Hotel and had steady work with small ensembles at the Village Club and the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dallas. He was a Life Member of the American Federation of Musicians.
Until the early 1970s, Henry and his family were members of Dallas's Temple Emanu-El, a Reform Jewish congregation.
After 1979, Henry spent his retirement from public-school teaching by enjoying his granddaughters and also until debilitating medical problems made traveling difficult seeing the world with his wife, Muriel. From 1996 until his death he lived at the 12 Oaks Retirement Center in Dallas.
Henry Brahinsky died February 15, 2001, in Dallas.