Georg Straka, a double-bass player with the Vienna Philharmonic, was killed while climbing Mount Fuji on Wednesday during an orchestral tour of Japan. The tour continues.
Straka, 41, had four children and played with them in a family ensemble. Six years ago, he survived a brain tumour. His climbing companion on Fuji was violinist Wilfried Ramsaier, according to fellow-players.
This is not the first time in recent memory that the VPO have lost a player on the hike. Gerhard Hetzel, an outstanding and popular concertmaster, hit his head on a rock and died while climbing near Salzburg with his wife in July 1994, early in the festival. It was said at the time that he let his head take the blow to protect his playing hand from injury.
Austria is a mountain nation and many VPO musicians are fearless climbers. But an orchestra on tour needs to maintain collective discipline and security. It may have to restrict dangerous pastimes to off-duty periods.