Obituary: Violinist Robert Mann, 97

Posted on: January 4, 2018

“Robert Mann, the founding first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet, the internationally renowned ensemble that at midcentury helped engender a chamber music revival throughout the United States, died on Monday,” writes Margalit Fox in Tuesday’s (1/2) New York Times. “Conceived in 1946, the Juilliard quartet gave its first official performance the next year…. Mr. Mann … remained with the ensemble for 51 years…. He retired [from the quartet] in 1997…. From the beginning, the Juilliard Quartet was known for its probing musicality … hard-driving style … and deep commitment to contemporary music…. Robert Nathaniel Mann was born in Portland, Ore., on July 19, 1920, into what he later described as a ‘very poor’ family…. At 18, the young Mr. Mann took up a scholarship at the Institute of Musical Art, a forerunner of the Juilliard School, in New York…. In 1941, Mr. Mann won the violin competition of the Naumburg Foundation…. As a composer, Mr. Mann was known for his Fantasy for Orchestra [and] his settings of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales for chamber ensemble and narrator. As a teacher, he was not one to mince words. ‘You call that an accent,’ he might say. ‘I call it dropping a pile of rocks on the downbeat.’ ”

Posted January 4, 2018