Obituary: Detlev Olshausen, longtime San Francisco Symphony violist, 100

Posted on: August 3, 2018

“Detlev Olshausen, a violist whose stately but impassioned playing was an essential component of the San Francisco Symphony’s sound for half a century, died Tuesday,” writes Joshua Kosman in Wednesday’s (8/1) San Francisco Chronicle. “In 1940, as a 22-year-old aspirant just a year out of UC Berkeley, Olshausen auditioned for Pierre Monteux, the orchestra’s French-born music director… Olshausen was hired on a temporary basis shortly afterward. In 1954, he was promoted to the No. 2 spot in the viola section … and remained a stalwart of the orchestra until his retirement in 1990…. Olshausen’s performances were strengthened by his instrument, a rare 1616 Amati viola whose rich, smooth tone lent a distinctive sheen to everything he played…. Robert Detlev Olshausen was born June 25, 1918, in Rochester, N.Y. … Shortly after joining the Symphony, he was one of several orchestra members drafted into the military service… His wife, Vernez Cook, who died in 2000, was the concertmaster of the Oakland Symphony…. Olshausen spent 15 years as a member of the California String Quartet, along with his fellow Symphony members Felix Khuner and David Schneider (violins) and George Barati (cello). He also taught violin and viola at UC Berkeley for 30 years.”

Posted August 3, 2018