Death of an award-winning US violinist

Death of an award-winning US violinist


norman lebrecht

January 02, 2017

The violinist Betty-Jean Hagen died on December 27, 2016 in Poughkeepsie, New York, at the age of 86.

She won the 1955 Leventritt Competition, earning concerto dates with the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh Symphony. In Europe she played with the Concertgebouw, the London Philharmonic, and the Orchestre de la Suisse romande.

Canadian born, she went on to teach at Vassar, marrying Vincent Greicius, a violinist in the Met orchestra.


  • Geoff Radnor says:

    She was very recently concertmaster here,

  • William Safford says:

    I played in an orchestra with her decades ago. Nice lady, gracious to me when I was young and inexperienced. RIP.

  • Elise says:

    The reports I have read state that she was Canadian, not USian, she certainly identified with Canada and continued performing there. Did she even take on US citizenship?

  • Noreen says:

    Unlike many fine performers, she was also an outstanding teacher. As a fellow teacher, she allowed me to observe her teaching one of my students. It was a great privilege and an inspiration. Having played in the HVP, GNSO and the WSO with Betty Jean, I know she will be sorely missed in our local musical community.

  • Ann Summers Dossena says:

    Betty Jean considered herself Canadian based in the US as many of us have been. She spent some time as my guest in Toronto. A benefactor in London Ontario made gifts of both a Strad and Guargneri because she couldn’t choose between them. They have been donated to the Canada Council instrument bank, I believe. A very positive person, she had the discipline to lay still for months to heal a broken back when she fell off her horse. She returned to performing and teaching right after that. I’m sorry she’s gone but she’ll always be remembered.

  • elise says:

    Thanks Ann, I thought so – but did not know her myself.
    It would be nice if Slipped Disc would corrected their title…

  • Melinda Schlitt says:

    I am deeply saddened to know of Betty-Jean’s death. I had the great fortune to have studied violin with her during the late 1970s until 1981 while in high school and college at SUNY Purchase, N.Y. She was an extraordinary teacher, musician, and person. Demanding yet supportive; exacting, yet encouraging. Precision and beauty characterized how she relayed learning about and playing the violin and its repertoire, and to this day, her wisdom and the lessons I took away from our sessions continue to inform my playing – I think of her every time I pick up my violin and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I will treasure the duets we played together, and all that she taught me. A rare artist, teacher, and person. My deepest sympathies to her family and friends. Most warmly…Melinda Schitt