Obituary: Laszlo Varga, former principal cellist at New York Philharmonic, 89

Posted on: December 22, 2014

In Sunday’s (12/21) New York Times, Bruce Weber writes, “Laszlo Varga, a Hungarian-born musician and teacher who escaped a Nazi work camp to become principal cellist for the New York Philharmonic under the batons of Dimitri Mitropoulos and Leonard Bernstein, died on Dec. 11 at his home in Sarasota, Fla. He was 89. He died several days after a fall had precipitated a stroke, his son Michael said.” Onetime principal cellist in the Budapest Symphony—a post he lost during a purge of Jews—Vargas came to the U.S. following World War II as a member of the Lener Quartet. In 1948 he joined the New York City Opera Orchestra, and succeeded Leonard Rose as principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic in 1951. In 1962 he resigned from the Philharmonic to play with the Canadian String Quartet and teach at the University of Toronto. “Mr. Varga performed as a guest soloist with orchestras on several continents and was featured on numerous recordings. He made a specialty of arranging works for solo cello, cello and piano, and string ensembles.” Survivors include his wife, the former Lillian Shadowitz; his children Michael and Peter; his daughter Robin; and a granddaughter.

Posted December 22, 2014