A Fine Arts second violinist has died

Following the death of Jerry Horner, we hear that Abram Loft, second violinist of the Fine Arts Quartet from 1954 to 1979,  died on February 1 at the age of 97.

He was professor of chamber music at Eastman from 1979 until his retirement in 1986.

 

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  • He was a beloved figure at Eastman while I was there. I remember an April Fool’s recital where he and Charlie Castleman played the Bach B minor partita as a duet: one playing the movement while the other played the “double” at the same time.

  • Whether you agree with all of his opinions or not, Loft’s two volume book “Violin and Keyboard” is nearly essential reading for anyone wishing to explore the duo literature. The sheer amount of music (some of it obscure and hard to find even in a very good library or collection) Loft must have read through, presumably with a pianist, in order to give his evaluation and practical advice about, often quite detailed, is staggering — almost as staggering and obscure as some of the repertoire Carl Flesch must have propped up on a music stand in order to write his book of suggested bowings and fingerings for challenging passages.

  • In gratitude to Abram Loft…..

    In the late 1960’s the Fine Arts Quartet announced a
    string quartet clinic that was open to anyone who wished to participate. A group of us made the trek to Milwaukee
    and I had the very good fortune of having Mr. Loft assigned
    as my coach.

    The featured work of the clinic was the Beethoven Op.18, No.4, and I instantly became amazed at the concepts that Mr. Loft offered to us. His playing was concise, focused, and of great power. Not surprisingly, he spent
    a great amount of his time revealing the importance of the
    two middle lines of the string quartet, showing how these parts, more often than not, were the motor that propelled
    the music forward.

    Each player had an opportunity to play various sections of the quartet, and the event ended with a resplendent rendition of the complete work by the Fine Arts. I have never forgotten the experience of that Saturday morning and of the musical wisdom imparted by Mr. Loft.

  • As a student of Abe Loft’s at the Univ of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, he was a great inspiration for my future career as a musician. I can honestly say I learned more about “making music” from him than I have from anyone. He was the perfect “2nd violinist” in a quartet. To this day, I have never seen or heard a 2nd violinist that held the quartet together so well and seamless meshed with the others in the quartet. His eyes were seldom on the music as he was constantly looking for any nuance from his quartet-mates. He was also a very funny and humble man. My life is better having known and studied with him.

    • Alan, thank you so much for your kind and insightful words. Mr Loft was actually my dad and though I am biased everything you say about his was more than true! Again, thanks.

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