A Holocaust survivor in the Philadelphia Orchestra

A Holocaust survivor in the Philadelphia Orchestra


norman lebrecht

March 29, 2017

Peter Dobrin has written a beautiful tribute to David Arben, a violinist who played 34 years in the Philadelphia Orchestra, a third of them as associate concertmaster.

The violin had saved David as a teenager from a Nazi firing squad.

He died in a retirement home two weeks ago, aged 89.

Read the obituary here.

Hear him play here.



  • le gall says:

    holocauste ? nous, les chrétiens ne sommes pas concernés !

  • Holly Mulcahy says:

    David was my last instructor. He polished my skills, created a musician in me that no other teacher could quite do. I’m so grateful to have had his calm guidance and belief in me. During my lessons with him, he would tell me not to worry, to just play music….as he would light up his cigar. Usually couldn’t stand cigar smoke, but during the lessons, it was a sign that he was happy with what I was playing! I’m beyond grateful that I had him in my life. The greater perspective in what we do and why we do it was always present, and I will carry that on with me forever because of him.

  • Nancy Shear says:

    David was a sensitive, loving soul who invested all of himself in his music. I knew him for many years but had to learn about his accomplishments from others; he never bragged, never displayed an ego. David was the sort of musician for whom music was a religion. There were many players like that in the Philadelphia Orchestra in the 1960s–lovely, gracious individuals who came together as a cohesive, brilliant ensemble. David, Donald Montanaro and many others live on in our memory, just as their sound lives on in their great recordings, and their wisdom and performance styles are perpetuated through their students.