A mutual friend has just informed me of the death on Friday of Raymond Cohen, the last leader appointed by Sir Thomas Beecham at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Raymond, who was 91, was the perfect concertmaster, leading by example and preserving corps morale through thick and – often in the RPO’s history – thin. He held the post for six years, 1959-65.
Raymond appeared often as a soloist with orchestras and in chamber music with his pianist wife, Anthya Rael. Their son is the cellist, Robert Cohen.
This is Anthya’s painting of Raymond teaching ((c) Lebrecht Music & Arts).
Krzystof Chorzelski, viola player of the Belcea Quartet, has just messaged this tribute:
Raymond was an amazing man. His love for music and the violin was o the purest kind. My afternoons with him and his friends playing through Haydn, Mozart quartets were unforgettable. He was always kind and funny. Eternally young. Saw him for the last time in hospital the day before he died (I had an inkling that it was the last time) and his charm, wit and unfailing interest and love of music were all there in abundance…