In the late 1970s, Mikhail Barash was a violin virtuoso who wanted to leave Russia. In 1979, with the help of a Fort Worth sponsor, he was allowed to do so – but without his violin.

The American dream seemed realized: Barash started performing with the Fort Worth Symphony, his wife, Alla, taught piano, and his son was growing up in Texas.

Fort Worth businessman and music lover Leon Brachman invited the family to live at his home for their first few months in town, and Brachman loaned Barash his own violin.

A short time afterward, the Russian native was thrown a curve ball: He hurt his hand in a car accident and was left unable to play.

But with tenacity and an immigrant’s spirit, Barash started a series of businesses. In 2005, a major Russian telecommunications provider bought one of his companies – Barash Communications Technologies, which had cellular rights in Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic – for more than $46 million.

“I understand he had an export business out of Russia and made a fortune,” said Brachman, who has kept up with Barash. “He seems to be doing real well.

“He was a very entrepreneurial kind of fellow.”

Barash and his family – including a daughter born in Texas – have a home in Fort Worth as well as a winter place on Miami’s Fisher Island.

But Barash is also intrinsically musical. So he began rehabilitating his hand, and, after 20 years, was able to play the violin again. His first performance was a gift for his wife’s birthday.

And the days of borrowing instruments are over; success brought him the violist’s ultimate dream: a Stradivarius.

Barash has returned to performing, usually in benefit concerts, and has recorded two CDs. He is on the board of trustees of Texas Wesleyan University and in 2007 performed at a benefit for the university’s music department.

“He is making a graduated comeback,” John Fisher, department chairman, said in a statement at the time. “He loves to play. He is outstanding. He has a fabulous instrument and a great command of it. He is a real force.”

The soft-spoken Barash, 54, is circumspect about his success. “I’ve been lucky in my life,” he said in a brief telephone interview from Miami.

But on the subject of Madoff, Barash had little to say. “I really have no comment about it,” he said, declining to disclose the amount of the loss.

Barash’s investment, listed under MAB Ltd., is a family partnership and can be found among the thousands of investors on the 162-page client list released by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. Madoff was arrested in December and accused of defrauding investors of $50 billion in a Ponzi scheme that lasted for years.

“I never met him,” Barash said. “I spoke with him. Some friends recommended him.”

Barash said he invested with Madoff in 2007.

“So I have been with him a very short time,” he said. As for the amount, “It’s nobody’s business,” he said.

Brachman, told of the Madoff connection, said, “That’s a shame.”

But Brachman, having seen Barash’s ability to overcome adversity, was optimistic about Barash’s future – even without knowing any details.

“He has the capability to earn money,” Brachman said. “So this can be temporary, a temporary disaster.””I never met him,” Barash said. “I spoke with him. Some friends recommended him.”

Barash said he invested with Madoff in 2007.

“So I have been with him a very short time,” he said. As for the amount, “It’s nobody’s business,” he said.

Brachman, told of the Madoff connection, said, “That’s a shame.”

But Brachman, having seen Barash’s ability to overcome adversity, was optimistic about Barash’s future – even without knowing any details.

“He has the capability to earn money,” Brachman said. “So this can be temporary, a temporary disaster.”


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