Jay Shulman remembers some of Alan’s friends and colleagues:
Bernard Robbins, who was second violinist of the Stuyvesant Quartet, died November 28, 1999 after a short illness. He was 86. Born in New York in 1913, Bernie was raised in the Bronx, received a bachelor’s degree from City College and a master’s in mathematics from Columbia University.
He studied at Juilliard with Sascha Jacobson, graduating in 1935. He was a member of the Kreiner Quartet with Sylvan and Alan Shulman before joining the National Symphony. From 1937 until 1944 he was a member of the Stradivarius Quartet. In 1944 he joined the NBC Symphony and in 1945 the Stuyvesant Quartet. In 1955 he joined the New York Philharmonic. For three years (1961-64) he was a member of the CBC String Quartet. He then rejoined the Philharmonic until his retirement in 1983. He remained an avid chamber music player.
Milton Preves, for 46 years principal violist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, died June 10, 2000, a week short of his 91st birthday. Born in Cleveland, Milton joined the Chicago Symphony in 1934. He was a member of the Mischakoff String Quartet and the Chicago Symphony String Quartet. After hearing Vardi’s broadcast premiere, he wrote to Alan requesting a copy of the Theme and Variations.
Milton gave the Chicago premiere in December 1943, Hans Lange conducting, and performed it again with Lange in February 1944. In 1947 he played it with Tauno Hannikainen, who also conducted the Waltzes for Orchestra with the CSO; on a 1966 telecast with Seiji Ozawa; and at Ravinia in 1979 with James Levine conducting. Milton conducted the premiere of Alan’s Prelude for Orchestra with the North Shore Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall in 1953. The Suite for Solo Viola is dedicated to him. Milton taught Alan’s music and his enthusiastic advocacy helped it to enter the standard viola repertoire. Milton’s career and friendship is truly something we celebrate.
Cellist Anthony Sophos died April 14, 2004. He was 81. Born in Peabody, Massachusetts 11 February 1923, Tony was raised in Cleveland and at 19 was appointed to the faculty of Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. He played in the Cleveland Orchestra under Arthur Rodzinski 1942-44. When he came to New York to study with Felix Salmond at the Juilliard, Tony and Alan began a lifelong friendship. Tony was a member of the NBC Symphony under Arturo Toscanini 1947-8, and then joined with the New York Philharmonic under Dimitri Mitropoulos and Leonard Bernstein 1947-58.
He was a member of the New York Philharmonic Cello Quartet with Laszlo Varga, Nathan Stutch and Martin Ormandy that recorded for Decca Records. Tony left the Philharmonic in 1958 to join CBS. He was an busy freelancer in radio, television and Broadway and recorded with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como and many others. He taught at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY, The Masters School in Tarrytown, NY and The Westchester Conservatory of Music in White Plains, NY. Tony was my first teacher. When I announced in 1958 that I wanted to study cello, Alan took me to Tony, saying “A doctor doesn’t operate on his own child.” Alan wrote Five Duos for Student and Teacher for Tony and me. Tony’s enthusiasm made him a great teacher who continues to inspire me. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn, and sons Marc and Kip, all wonderful musicians.
Violinist Charles Libove died in May 22, 2008. Born in New York in 1926, he studied at the Curtis Institute and the Juilliard School. Among his teachers were Lea Luboschutz, Ivan Galamian, and Demetrius Dounis. He played in the first Casals Festival in 1957 in Puerto Rico, and in 1958 was the sole American Laureate at the Enesco Violin Competition in Bucharest. He was a member of the Paganini Quartet, Marlboro Trio and the Naumberg Award-winning Beaux Arts Quartet. He also taught at NYU, SUNY, American University and the Peabody Conservatory, and was among the busiest New York studio free-lancers.
With his wife, pianist Nina Lugovoy, he had the idea musical partner and together they performed a wealth of repertoire. Their recording of the Ravel and Frank Bridge sonatas has been reissued on a MSR Classics CD (MS 1012) In 1961, Charlie, Nina and Alan Shulman formed the Philharmonia Trio. Their 1962 Carnegie Recital Hall début was critically acclaimed, and for the rest of the decade they gave memorable concerts throughout the United States while maintaining busy teaching and freelance careers in New York. Their CRI recording of the Cowell and Semmler trios document their artistry.
Alan abruptly left the Trio during a 1969 tour. Charlie and Nina had been part of our family during those years and it was a loss that affected us deeply. In 1980, Alan and Sophie moved to the Woodstock area where the Liboves had a country home since the 1960s. A reconciliation was effected when Charlie and Nina performed Alan’s music on programs at Maverick Concerts (where they performed for nearly 40 years) and at Merkin Concert Hall. Charlie was a violinist’s violinist. His effortless bow arm, facile left hand technique and flawless shifts, produced a tone that was a thing of beauty. Charlie was highly opinionated, but often spoke of the great violinists of yesteryear with admiration and humility. He was truly among their ranks.
Violist Emanuel Vardi died at his home in North Bend, Washington on January 29, 2011. Born in Jerusalem April 21, 1915, Manny studied violin at the Institute of Musical Art in New York with Constance Seeger, and viola with Edouard Dethier at Juilliard, where he first met Alan Shulman. Alan, Sylvan and Manny played together in the NBC Symphony Orchestra. In 1941, Manny gave the first performance of Alan’s Theme & Variations with pianist Vivian Rivkin on his Town Hall debut, February 17, 1941. At Manny’s suggestion, Alan orchestrated the work and Manny played the radio premiere March 11, 1941 on a short-wave broadcast to South America, and an NBC network broadcast the same night.
The second broadcast is on Bridge records CD 9119. Manny’s championing of Theme & Variations help launch both their careers and its subsequent success is in large part owed to him. When violist Louis Kievman left the Stuyvesant Quartet in 1942, Manny replaced him. He plays on their Columbia recording of the Shostakovich String Quartet, Op. 49. While Manny was in the U.S. Navy Orchestra he played for the Roosevelts at the White House. After the war, Manny pursued his career as a soloist, performing the Theme & Variations with ABC in 1946 and with Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1947. He studied art in Florence 1950-52. Upon his return to New York, he became one of the busiest freelance players in radio and television, on classical and popular record dates, arranging and composing. His landmark viola recording of the Paganini Caprices has been reissued on Cembal d’Amour 129. Manny, Alan and pianist Ed Haimovitz recorded for Music Minus One Records as the Vardi Trio during the 1970s.
Manny was Music Director of the South Dakota Symphony from 1977-82. Two injuries curtailed Manny’s playing career in the early 1990s. He continued to give master classes, and paint. Manny is survived by his wife, musical and artistic partner Lenore Weinstock Vardi, and his daughters Andrea Smith and Pauline Normand.