Shocking death of Juilliard violinist, aged 28

Shocking death of Juilliard violinist, aged 28


norman lebrecht

July 12, 2020

Tributes are pouring in for Gregory Cardi, a former violin and conducting student at Juilliard and Colburn, who died yesterday at the age of 28. No cause has been given. He was a popular, promising young professional.

Originally from East Greenwich, Rhode Island, Greg was concertmaster of several college orchestras and Gerard Schwarz’s conducting assistant at the University of Miami.

Our condolences to his loved ones.

Miguel Harth-Bedoya writes: I am very saddened by the loss of Greg Cardi. Last summer I spent a week working with him, and I was struck by his passion and determination to be a better musician, combined with his constant great sense of humor.
My heart goes out to his parents, relatives, friends, and colleagues.

Andrew Brady writes: When Greg Cardi asked if I wanted to be his roommate at Tanglewood for the summer of 2012 I hesitantly agreed, knowing that I could at least count on some hijinks and entertainment. What I didn’t anticipate was discovering just how genuine and sweet he was when there were fewer people around. We had funny and irreverent conversations as well as deep and sincere ones. I’ll never forget the times we were squeezed next to each other on those tiny beds at Miss Hall’s binging Breaking Bad.

At the end of the summer I went home with him for the small amount of time between the festival and the start of the semester at Colburn. I got to be there to see him celebrate his mom’s birthday with family. The love and generosity were evident during my time there. I’m so so sorry to his family, and my thoughts are with you.

Greg was an extremely dedicated musician. An amazing violinist and conductor, he poured so much of himself into improving his musicianship. He was eager to hear opinions from friends about how to phrase a certain passage, sometimes even bursting into your practice room to play and get feedback. All with such an air of humility.

John Petrey: I was not expecting to hear about this yesterday, especially right after he won a big conducting job in Miami right out of school… I’m still processing it, as he and I used to be the only ones in our professor’s studios at 11:30pm 5x a week practicing all of last year, we would sight-read Mozart Sinfonia Concertante for fun and probably talked every day with orchestra, our TA duties and classes and stuff…. 

I guess it’s setting in more today after seeing all these posts about it and talking to some of the string faculty directly. I was really hoping it was some sick joke when I heard about it late last night, but 2020 has *not* been kind to anyone… Not really sure what else to say, but I’m really bummed that this keeps happening to friends who were generally quiet about their struggles and rarely if ever asked anybody else for help when they needed it the most.

… The common denominator in situations like this is that people tend to feel like they’re alone in dealing with issues because they think that everyone is against them, but that’s definitely not the case. We are all navigating this pandemic and dozens of equally bad global and local issues on a day to day basis, so moving forward we have to keep an eye out on those that are the most vulnerable in these areas. My condolences to his family if they see this as well, I remember meeting his parents briefly at one of his performances and I’m sure this is devastating…

Jebat Kee: I am still in shock and trying to process the loss of Greg Cardi.

We were friends. Colleagues. Our desks were adjacent to one another in the conducting office. I would often come in late at night to find Greg practicing Don Juan on his violin. I told him it was time to go home but he would always reiterate that he needed to put in his 30 minutes a day on violin. One morning I woke up to 30 bucks in my Venmo account from Greg. He told me it was for his failing to live up to his promise of completing a particular task. I told him he was being ridiculous and wanted to give it back but he insisted I keep it. Talk about discipline and dedication.

Greg and I shared the experience of being string players transitioning into the world of conducting, and we often discussed the challenges we faced. His endless curiosity led him to asking unique and thought-provoking questions of us. He made me think out of the box on many occasions. Every day he would eagerly present a new epiphany he had, whether it had to do with conducting, music, life, you name it.

Greg loved to teach. I watched him coach a group where he used words like “pineapple” and “watermelon” to help them with triplet and sixteenth note rhythms. And of course, most of us will never look at the word “potato” in the same light again.

To say Greg was unique would be an understatement. My heart goes out to his family. What a great loss.


  • A pianist says:

    That is horribly sad. There was a suicide while I was at the Jyard, a violist jumped out her apt building window. It is so easy to feel like a failure in in classical music and top students tend to be highly driven and perfectionistic to begin with. It can be hard to see that no matter how your music career turns out you already have all the talents and skills to have a great life and it will all be fine.

    • Craig says:

      I am so worried we will see more. A hornist friend of mine, a wonderful young man and fine musician, just passed away from a suicide — age 30. The combination of the pressure, competitiveness, and perfectionism along with the uncertain outlook for the arts is leaving a lot of musicians struggling.

      So sad. Rest in peace, Greg.

  • MH says:

    It’s time to start addressing the elephant in the room: mental health in Classical Music. We all know musicians that have died of suicide, particularly in their 20s. We need to start talking as a community about what this obsession with being the best at a young age is causing to a whole generation of musicians, and by extension to the music itself.

    • John Borstlap says:

      A big elephant indeed. And the irony is that the subject itself, the music, is meant to be uplifting and aspirational and inspiring. The entire cult of competition and success-career should be cancelled….. together with the competition cult. Being good in the field is a bonus, it is about the music. Also, maybe, too many young people are pressured by their environment for becoming a ‘star’ when they don’t really have all that it takes. There should be room for the middle ground, that does not apsire to status but is still functional. Classical music is not about stardom.

  • Anonymous says:

    To honor Greg, please don’t do this gossipy insensitive. Give his family and friends time to process. Are these Greg’s friends gave you permission to use their words? I bet not. Pleas have more respect.

    • MH says:

      Nobody is gossiping. Suicide is a real problem among classical musicians. Not talking about it only perpetuates the problem.

    • Arthur says:

      Nonsense. The death of a musician is news and should and will be discussed and speculated about. No one needs your, or anyone else’s, permission.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    A life with so much promise, just snuffed out. Absolutely dreadful.

  • me! says:

    It was suicide, as can be gleaned from some of the quotes. Unfortunately the poor Violin Channel on Facebook had some harsh threads where his self appointed friends insulted anyone who questioned removing public notice of his death or cause of death. We should not shy from discussing and supporting anti suicide efforts. VC removed their notice of his death and several threads. His friends seem genuinely toxic, most unfortunate. Likely not the ones posting above, but a sad reflection of humanity – check it out. That said, SD posters often very similar…

    • PHF says:

      Agreed. Another recurring aspect in those cases is that people create a social media PUBLIC profile where anyone can see his/her “thoughts”. The same people use it as social promotion all the time, to share their political views and especially to share how “they are amazing”. At the same time they think it is absurd when someone quote them. Hypocrisy or ignorance? Depend on what is convenient, as usual.

    • JM says:

      The violin channel is the toxic element, always eager to post a “VERY SAD NEWS” article in their never-ending desire for clicks, not friends and acquaintances of his who wanted the privacy of his family respected.

      • PHF says:

        Ok. If you want privacy do not keep social media profiles and also do not post publicly about personal matters, simple isn’t It?

        • JM says:

          I don’t see anywhere that the family posted anything about suicide, and yet the violin channel posted that without consulting the family.
          But I suppose if the tawdriness of publishing that kind of thing on a huge media platform without consulting the family isn’t obvious clear, well, some people have very poor judgement

        • V. Lind says:

          Used to be. Still is for some of us.

        • Nelson says:

          So you think there’s a simple line between privacy and that which is public in a case like this? I suppose that is so, but people are still capable of showing SOME respect, discretion and tact, right? Then again, it’s 2020, the world is upside down and we’re “led” by a gang of liars and enablers. The age of social media seems to give many the feeling that anything and everything is their property and that we need to hear their twaddle and petty views on every bloody thing. I find that attitude disgusting, but then, less and less people share my views as time goes by. Thankfully, I only have a few more decades to endure this progression. I’m very sorry for the generation for whom this is the norm.

          I didn’t know Mr. Cardi, but many friends of mine were acquainted, and I know their tributes on FB were genuine. My condolences to them and his family.

  • Elvira says:

    Sometimes you wonder what role plays the mental strength in the final success of an artist.
    How much talent ,how much endurance ,how much chance ,how much …..
    What a tragedy!

  • Ben says:

    The solution is to practice more, attend more festivals, and take more EM classes.

  • Lily Williams says:

    I truly wish that the internet trolls here who seemingly didn’t know Greg and have made hurtful anonymous comments on this post would have some empathy. Please take time to imagine how you would feel if your loved one had suffered like this. Openly and honestly discussing mental health challenges and supporting everyone who is suffering is paramount — how are you helping the situation with your vitriolic speech?

    Please remember that this is very fresh and incredibly difficult for many. Please stop demeaning people with your hateful words. If you would like to positively contribute to the cause of mental health, you could show support and empathy to our community.

    Norman Lebrecht – as a friend of Greg, I can’t tell you how hurtful it is to see parts of this discourse online. Many of us are struggling and grieving Greg. Would you please consider deleting comments that trivialize Greg’s situation and antagonize his loved ones? If you would delete all relevant comments and then this one, I would greatly appreciate it.

    • MH says:

      Vitriolic speech? Antagonize?

      Greg died of suicide. At this point it is public domain. The best thing we can do is reflecting on what that means. What are we doing wrong as a community? What are the music schools doing wrong? Teachers, etc. That’s the discourse that would actually be meaningful.

    • Arthur says:

      @Lily – Nonsense. The death of a musician is news, the death of a musician by suicide is news, your grieving is not news. Covering the death of a musician by suicide IS a show of the “support and empathy to our community” that you’re whinging on about. Nobody needs your permission for speech, vitriolic (which it isn’t) or otherwise, and no one is deleting anything. Grow up.

      • Lily Williams says:

        You may review the above comments from a complete stranger calling Greg’s loved ones “toxic” among other things, along with similar comments that The Violin Channel incited. This is a tragedy and comments like these, while allowed on the internet, are morally wrong.

        If you need to see a thoughtful response to what has happened and mental health, you can read cellosurf’s comment below.

        You can say what you want, by all means, but it’s pathetic. Hope you enjoy the pain you’re causing.

  • cellosurf says:

    Music can take us into such a beautiful, powerful, magical and emotive world. But being (and becoming) a professional musician is an absolute minefield: physically, economically and, above all, emotionally. They say “music calms the soul” …. but this really only applies to listeners (and amateur players)!

    Having had the “luck” to be a professional musician for the last 35 years, I now rather regret my good fortune and wish I had chosen a field somewhat less demanding on the nervous system.

    Music, as an amateur activity, is therapeutic. But as a profession, the extreme demands it makes on us can easily become toxic, causing us to sacrifice many other vital soul-nourishing activities. Making music beautifully is important, but the music should never be more important than the person who is playing it …..

    All suicides are like the canaries in the coalmines, sending us unbelievably important messages about the toxic emotional, social and, economic environment in which the victims (and many of us “survivors” also) were living.

    Rest in peace, dear friend, and may we hear (and heed) your message deeply.