Henry Meyer, Violinist With LaSalle Quartet, Dies at 83

Classic Arts News   Henry Meyer, Violinist With LaSalle Quartet, Dies at 83
Violinist Henry Meyer, a founding member of the LaSalle Quartet and a Holocaust survivor, died on December 18 of heart disease at age 83, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Meyer emigrated to the U.S. in 1948 — after World War II, during which he survived four Nazi death camps and lost his entire family. He won scholarships to study at Juilliard and was a founding member of the LaSalle Quartet, the first quartet-in-residence at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Soprano Benita Valente, who toured with the LaSalle Quartet in performances of Schoenberg's Quartet No. 2, told the paper, "He has students all over the world. The sincerity with which he taught, his passion for music and for life — he's just an unforgettable human being."

Born in Dresden in 1923, Meyer was a child prodigy who performed duo-recitals with his pianist brother, Fritz, and at age 8 was soloist with the Dresden Philharmonic. His life was abruptly altered after "Kristallnacht" in 1938, but his status as a known violinist perhaps saved his life. After being taken to Auschwitz, he faced the gas chamber but was recognized by a doctor who had heard him perform; thus Meyer narrowly avoided being killed.

Meyer regularly taught until a hit-and-run accident in front of Cincinnati's Music Hall put him in a wheelchair three years ago, according to the Enquirer.

"As a teacher, Henry was one of the most generous but also honest people," Daniel Ching, violinist in the Miro Quartet, told the paper. "He helped us so much in our career, not just musically, but also inviting us to festivals that he was involved in."

The LaSalle Quartet performed together on 60 international tours and recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, earning awards including the Grand Prix du Disque and two Grammy nominations.

Meyer was the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. In 1993, he received the A.B. (Dolly) Cohen Award for Excellence in Teaching at the University of Cincinnati.

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