Obituary: Judith Davidoff, viola da gambist, 94

Posted on: January 11, 2022

“Judith Davidoff, who mastered an assortment of stringed instruments not widely played for centuries, especially the cello-like viola da gamba, and became a leading proponent and player of early music, died on Dec. 19 at her home in Manhattan. She was 94,” writes Neil Genzlinger in Thursday’s (1/6) New York Times. “Ms. Davidoff was trained as a cellist, and she was a good one…. But while she was studying the cello as a teenager, … ‘I began to notice music for an instrument called the viola da gamba,’ she [said] in 1983…. First in Boston, then in New York, Ms. Davidoff became part of an early-music scene that was gaining momentum…. She was a member of … the Boston Camerata, the Cambridge Consort and New York Pro Musica. She was a founding member of the group Music for a While and, in 1972, created the New York Consort of Viols…. Davidoff … was born on Oct. 21, 1927, in Chelsea, Mass…. At 18 she performed as a cello soloist with the Boston Pops. She studied at Radcliffe College and the Longy School of Music…. In her late 60s, Ms. Davidoff earned a Ph.D.… Her dissertation, ‘The Waning and Waxing of the Viol,’ included both an in-depth history of the instrument and a catalog of music written for it in the 20th century.”