Obituary: David Arben, Philadelphia Orchestra violinist and Holocaust survivor, 89

Posted on: March 31, 2017

“In 1941, in World War II Poland, a teenager named Chaim Arbeitman was marched into a forest by the SS along with a group of the old and sick. Prisoners at Budzyn, the labor camp, they were told to dig their own graves,” writes Peter Dobrin in Tuesday’s (3/28) Philadelphia Inquirer. “A prison assistant … spotted him … and told the Nazis the boy was a violinist and was needed… Arbeitman ended up surviving seven concentration camps, and after the war made it to Philadelphia’s prestigious Curtis Institute of Music as a student. He changed his name to David Arben, and later spent 34 years with the Philadelphia Orchestra, including more than a dozen as associate concertmaster. Mr. Arben, 89, died March 13 [in Philadelphia]…. Several of [his students] now play in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, said close friend and retired Philadelphia Orchestra violinist Larry Grika, who called Mr. Arben ‘a sensitive and graceful violinist.’ … After playing with the Cleveland Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Orchestra, he joined the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1959 … retiring in 1993…. A celebration for David Arben will be held at 7 p.m. April 14 at the Union League.”

Posted March 31, 2017