A venerated concertmaster turns 90

A venerated concertmaster turns 90


norman lebrecht

October 08, 2014

Time was when every London musician could name the concertmasters of the major orchestras – Hugh Bean at the Philharmonia, John Georgiadis at the LSO, Rodney Friend at the LPO and Erich Gruenberg at the RPO. Big players, each and every one.

Erich will turn 90 this Sunday.

Among numerous achievements, he premiered concertos by Goldschmidt, McCabe, Holloway and more… and played on several Beatles records.

Happy birthday, Mr G.

gruenberg davis tippett

BBC photo l-r: Colin Davis, Michael Tippett, Erich Gruenberg


  • John Kelly says:

    When discussing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, composer Ned Rorem described “She’s Leaving Home” as “equal to any song that Schubert ever wrote.” (from Wikipedia).

    Lovely orchestration.

    Congrats to Mr. G whose playing of Scheherezade is so sumptuous and enjoyable on the two Stokowski recordings (LSO Phase 4 1964 and RPO 1973).

  • Andrew Condon says:

    Many congratulations on this special day!
    I remember some truly stunning performances of his over the years: a Roberto Gerhard concerto at the Proms, an all 20th century solo violin recital at Wigmore (Ysaye, McCabe, Reizenstein, Bartok + 2 Bach slow movements as encores) and more recently a recital with Piers Lane when he was already 80, the programme as uncompromising and challenging as ever: Bartok First Sonata, the Shostakovich Sonata and the Brahms Sonatsatz as an encore (and there was no interval!). The Beethoven concerto recorded with Horenstein dates from the mid-late 1960s, and he went on to record the complete Beethoven Sonatas with David Wilde on CRD which were highly regarded when released on LP in 1983. Sadly only the final 3 sonatas have been transferred onto CD (as Volume III), so please CRD, lets have the balance released as a special birthday tribute to this great player.

  • Adrian says:

    And how about this for a beautiful Heldenleben solo? (8’30” onwards) http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=d4ksY2btl5k

  • mahlerman says:

    Yes Adrian, what a great player Erich Gruenberg was (still with us, thankfully), but also was an extraordinary performance of Heldenleben, guided by perhaps the greatest Strauss conductor at that time. Scoreless, he clearly knew the piece inside-out as you might expect. I remember how he was revered not just by the RPO, but just about every band he stood in front of. Where is his like today?

  • Ashley Arbuckle says:

    and what an inspiring teacher was Erich – I was lucky enough to sit next to him in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 1974 – 77. I treasure those years.
    Unfortunately we have not been in touch – is he still alive ? What about his lovely wife, Korshed ? All my most sincere wishes go to that wonderful couple.

    • Tina gruenberg says:

      Ashley, thanks for writing such touching things about my parents!
      Dad loved sitting with you in RPO and they send you much love.
      Dad is 93 and is still teaching at the Royal Academy of Music as well as
      taking masterclasses in courses in Vienna each Summer.
      Hopw youbare very well.
      With best wishes,