Highlights from the UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive: James Arkatov World Music photographs

James Arkatov was born in 1920 in Odessa, Russia and raised in San Francisco, where his father, Alexander Arkatov, owned a photography salon.  In 1938, he was invited by Fritz Feiner to join the Pittsburgh Symphony.  Later, he joined the San Francisco Symphony with Pierre Monteux, and went on to be principal cellist of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under Fabien Sevitzky.  Arkatov returned to California in 1946 as a studio musician and was later appointed principal cellist of the NBC Symphony Orchestra.  In 1956, he married Salome Ramras Arkatov

Photo: Pablo Casals with James Arkatov, 1956

In 1968, he founded the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) and was its first principal cellist.  According to LACO: "The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1968 as an artistic outlet for the recording industry’s most gifted musicians. The Orchestra’s artistic founder, cellist James Arkatov, envisioned an ensemble that would allow these conservatory-trained players to balance studio work and teaching with pure artistic collaboration at the highest level."

Arkatov began photographing musicians when he was with the Pittsburgh Symphony.  In 1990, he published his first book, Masters of Music: Great Artists at Work.  In 1998, he published his second book, Artists: The Creative Personality.

In May 2015, the Arkatovs donated James' photographs of world music performers to the Ethnomusicology Archive.  In 2021, the James Arkatov World Music photographs became available for viewing at the UCLA Digital Library

Queen Ida

Ravi Shankar

Ustad Shujaat Khan

A.J. Racy

Thai Festival

Child playing Korean drums

Harmonica Fats at L.A. Festival

And because Arkatov is a musician, I had to include some of his work.

In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning by Frank Sinatra (Arkatov on cello) ℗ 1998 Capitol Records, LLC.

Photos © Regents of the University of California, All Right Reserved. (For permission to use any Arkatov world music images, contact the Archivists.)


"Sounding Board" is intended as a space for scholars to publish thoughts and observations about their current work. These postings are not peer reviewed and do not reflect the opinion of Ethnomusicology Review. We support the expression of controversial opinions, and welcome civil discussion about them. We do not, however, tolerate overt discrimination based on race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, and reserve the right to remove posts that we feel might offend our readers.