GABRILOWITZ
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ANALYSIS OF THE RELATIONSHIP TO OSSIP GABRILOWITSCH

I have heard from Gabrilowitzs, and other folks (from all over the world), that they are related to Ossip Gabrilowitsch.

However, the existence of Ossip's potential relationship seems to have also created a dilemma. Everyone in the family wants to claim a very close relationship to Ossip!

I have heard from many folks that "Ossip was a first cousin," and they have drawn up a family tree that shows Ossip's family right next to THEIR Grandfather.

So the big question is, is Ossip related to the descendants of Pheitl Gabrilowitz?

The answer unfortunately is-- it is almost certain that we are not. Our family recently undertook genetic testing, providing a DNA sample of a male Gabrilowitz family member, and had it compared with a male first cousin to Ossip Gabrilowitsch.

The results did not show significant matches on either the 12, 25, or 37 marker tests, suggesting there is not a male ancestral relationship between our family and Ossip's; not even within 1,000 years.

To read more about Ossip Gabrilowitsch's prominent St. Petersburg family, click here: St. Petersburg Gabrilovichs

In his superbly written and very amusing article "My Cousin Mark Twain," published by the Rhode Island Jewish Historical Society, author Mel Zurier tells the tale of a brother to Israel Yonkel (Pheitel's son) named Shlomo, who adopts the name Solomon, travels off to St. Petersburg and begats the great pianist Ossip.

However, Lithuanian census records describe in clear detail a Lituanian Ossip Gabrilovich (born 1802), and his five sons and five daughters. One son Zalman (Solomon) is a Lawyer. Another son Itzhak (Eugene) is a Doctor. The birth dates of these two sons and the description of their professions match up perfectly with other documented evidence regarding the St. Petersburg Gabrilovich family.

The researchers mentioned in the "News" page, who have access to a large number of documents left by Dr. Nikolai Gabrilovich (Eugene's son), believe that the aforementioned Lithuanian Gabrilovich family, is indeed the St. Petersburg Gabrilovichs.

Additionally, the census lists Ossip's father as Berel. The records also recognize two likely siblings to Ossip, Abel and Orel. There is no mention of a Pheitl or even a name that is similar to Pheitl.

While Mel is an excellent writer, and the story nicely puts Ossip squarely in "my branch" of the family, I feel certain it is apocryphal.

The sons of Ossip (the grandfather), who were raised as Russian Orthodox Christians, and lived in the "verboten" St. Petersburg, were certainly not brothers of Israel Yonkel Gabrilowitz (a son of Pheitl).

The Ossip Gabrilowitsch archive at the Detroit Public Library contains a letter written by the pianist to another person name Gavrilovitch who has inquired whether the two are related. Ossip's letter explains that his father's family (Solomon) came from Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania, and that Ossip believes his ancestors came from there as well. There is no mention of Novogrudok, Israel Yonkel's region.

While I would love to claim the "first cousin" relationship suggested in Mel's article, the story appears to be apocryphal.

 
Photo of the young concert pianist, Ossip Gabrilowitsch.
Nina Gabrilowitsch (1910-1966)
She was Mark Twain's last descendant and heir when she died in Los Angeles.
   
Ossip with his wife Clara Clemens and their daugther Nina.