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End of history: A quartet legend has died

August 6, 2017 by norman lebrecht

6 comments.


Franck Chevalier of the Diotima Quartet reports the death of his teacher Walter Levin, founder of the La Salle Quartet and coach of innumerable members of frontline quartets. Walter was 92.

Born in Berlin, he fled with his family to Palestine in 1938. He met his LaSalle colleagues at Juilliard after the War and set about playing unheard works of modernism by Schoenberg and his circle. They obtained a residency at Cincinnati College of Music, where Walter discovered and taught James Levine from the age of 10.

A contract with Deutsche Grammophon enabled the group to record unheard works by Zemlinsky, Lutoslawski, Ligeti, Nono and Penderecki. Technically, they were the outstanding quartet of the 1970s, in a class of their own.

After the LaSalles disbanded in 1987, Walter continued teaching for some years in Switzerland, eventually moving to Chicago where he entered a retirement home after being diagnosed with dementia.

We will not see his like again.


Comments (6)

  1. Cesare civetta says:

    A giant! One of my most inspiring teachers.

  2. Adriana Verchiani says:

    Un pezzo grande della storia dell’interpretazione del ‘900.Grazie per le visioni che ci hai rivelato!

  3. Steve P says:

    Their Schoenberg quartet recordings were tremendously inspiring in college. RIP

  4. Yoel greenberg says:

    How sad. Walter was a truly unique teacher, who changed not only the way I play quartets, but also my entire outlook on how to read music.

    1. Ruben Greenberg says:

      It would be interesting to have you develop on this. Have articles been written about his teaching? (perhaps you yourself have written some)

  5. ben dominitz says:

    He was my teacher and my inspiration in all I did. While I shared a musical career with other pursuits, his fierce integrity was always my guiding light.


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