Obituary: Longtime Pittsburgh Symphony bassist Anthony Bianco, 94

Posted on: October 25, 2011

In Tuesday’s (10/25) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Andrew Druckenbrod writes, “The bass is the harmonic foundation of orchestras, jazz ensembles, rock bands and more. Double bassist Anthony Bianco took that a step further—with a 55-year tenure with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, he was the longest-serving musician in the orchestra’s history. ‘Tony was an icon,’ said PSO principal bassist Jeffrey Turner. ‘He was an absolute prince, a beautiful human being and a wonderful musician.’ Mr. Bianco died of congestive heart failure Monday at his home in Zelienople. He was 94.” Bianco started off as a jazz bassist but turned down an opportunity to play in the Artie Shaw Band in 1941 “because he had taken to classical music as a student of famed bass player Sam Levitan—that and a passionate desire to play under the Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini in the NBC Symphony Orchestra. … In 1944, he subbed for that orchestra, but a year later he won an audition in Pittsburgh, then headed by conductor Fritz Reiner, and was hired as principal. … Mr. Bianco also was a renowned teacher with several of his students taking principal positions in major orchestras. Mr. Bianco taught bass at Carnegie Mellon University for 60 years.”

Posted October 25, 2011