Philadelphia Orchestra mourns violinist, 101

Philadelphia Orchestra mourns violinist, 101


norman lebrecht

July 22, 2021

The indomitable Jerry Wigler who played in the Philadelphia Orchestra for 60 years until his retirement in 2011, has died at 101.

He fought in the D-Day landings and took no nonsense from former Wehrmacht soldier Wolfgang Sawallisch.

Philly musicians are posting their memories online.




  • Petros LInardos says:

    “Mr. Sawallisch was drafted into the German Army in 1942 and became a radio operator in the tank division on the Italian front. He ended up as an English prisoner of war, and composed two string quartets in camp.”

    • fflambeau says:

      Petros, Just because you were drafted did not mean you could not resist and this guy never did because he was a confirmed Nazi.

      • Thierrence Nye says:

        History is taught by the victor. As such, we could infer a swollen ego and the original agenda may get in the way. Soon we will all relearn our real world history as it should have been taught originally. In the meantime let’s assume we have the wrong understanding about WWII, beginning with the term “Nazi.” This was a made-up slang term meant to demean the National Socialist Workers Party of Germany. The definition of this term is “ignoramous” and it is the brainchild of a Jewish journalist of the mid-1930s. This information can be found in a long lost film by the title, “Europa.”

        • Not an Antisemite says:

          Did we find an anti-semite here?

          • Jascha MF Heifetz says:

            Poor li’l nazzies, getting all demeaned!

            In addition to being demeaned, they were also defeated.

            “Soon we will all relearn our real world history as it should have been taught originally…”

            Like… Hitler was flatulent amphetamine junkie who couldn’t get it up?


  • Peter San Diego says:

    Are we to infer that Sawallisch was prone to dispensing nonsense in rehearsals?

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Whenever on tour in Europe after Sawallsich’s retirement as Music DIrector, a delegation of Philadelphia Orchestra orchestra paid him a visit, also after he retired from conducting altogether. If that was not a genuine sign of respect from orchestral musicians to conductor, I don’t know what is.

      The above article also has a moving story about a friendship Wigler struck with a younger French musician at the liberation of Paris.

    • Derek H says:

      Jerry Wigler’s story was that Wolfgang Sawallisch asked him once if he might retire as he had been there for decades and maybe someone new could have an opportunity.

      Jerry replied ” I advanced up the beach, under fire, on D Day and that took courage but I wouldn’t give up. You were on the other side so you needed courage as well. I won’t give up now either, so no I won’t retire!”

      Next day at rehearsal Sawallisch greeted him respectfully – “Good morning Mr. Wigler I trust you are well”.

  • Henry williams says:

    The problem was germans had to do military service.
    Jehovah witnesses refused and they were slaughtered.

    • Dr. Shirley Rombough says:

      Being a radio operator might have meant that he didn’t have to kill. I hope so.9

      • Saxon says:

        In practise most infantry soldiers won’t shoot when in combat. Only about 10 percent of frontline troops actually try to kill the enemy. So it is unlikely that either of the two gentleman actually killed anyone.

  • NYMike says:

    One of the PO’s better periods was during Sawallisch’s tenure during which their live concerts and recordings were extremely good. Why take potshots at him in describing Wigler’s passing?

  • SK says:

    One of the nicest people with the most incredible stories in the industry. I will always cherish the long chats I had with him about so many subjects.

  • fflambeau says:

    He was a Nazi supporter although a gifted musician. Not a surprise in Germany of that time. He made no effort to resist the powers that were although he came from a wealthy family and could have.

  • fflambeau says:

    Wigler was also drafted (there is no excuse for “just following orders”.

  • leogrinhauz says:

    so, this nice, old man dies and we’re still chasing nazis? hell is other people.

  • Rest in pease dear Jerry. How I cherish our 60 year friendship. And what a well-lived life you have lived- always on your own terms with honesty and strength of character. Well-done my friend. You have been an inspiration and such a dear and caring friend. I will miss your laughter and wonderful tales but I treasure the memories. You will be missed by so many!

  • Nancy Shear says:

    Jerry Wigler was a delightful man as well as a devoted musician. He was one of the many players in the Philadelphia Orchestra in the 1960s, when I was a very young member of the orchestra’s library staff, who spent time with me and handed down the history and traditions of that great orchestra. His memory is a blessing.