Obituary: Ann Spurbeck, longtime Memphis Symphony violinist, 84

Posted on: January 21, 2022

“Ann Spurbeck was an ‘elegant grande dame’ of the violin who played a record 52 years with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra,” writes John Beifuss in Wednesday’s (1/19) Commercial Appeal. “She performed on some of Elvis Presley’s essential ‘comeback’ recordings, after his 1968 television special, and she contributed expressive strings to Isaac Hayes’ Oscar-winning ‘Theme from Shaft.’ Mrs. Spurbeck, 84, … died Monday…. As a musical colleague, ‘She could follow anyone,’ [MSO personnel manager and Spurbeck’s longtime stand partner Erin] Kaste said. ‘It was like she had ESP.’ Mrs. Spurbeck retired from the Memphis Symphony Orchestra in 2020…. She had played with the symphony since 1968…. Born Ann Turner, Mrs. Spurbeck … earned a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from the University of Florida, followed by a master’s degree in music education from Indiana University…. Mrs. Spurbeck [traveled] regularly to low-income neighborhoods and rural communities to teach violin to young people…. Kaste said this weekend’s Memphis Symphony Orchestra performances of Schubert, Mozart and Tchaikovsky will be dedicated to Mrs. Spurbeck…. At each show, a rose will be placed on an empty chair in Mrs. Spurbeck’s honor.” Survivors include a sister, Sara Rockabrand, and a son, Sam Spurbeck, a violinist with Michigan’s Lansing Symphony. Her husband, Peter, pre-deceased her in 2012.