1946 – 1987 (41 years)
The LaSalle Quartet was a string quartet active from 1946 to 1987. It was founded by first violinist Walter Levin (December 6, 1924 - August 6, 2017). The LaSalle's name is attributed to an apartment on LaSalle Street in Manhattan, where some of its members lived during the quartet's inception. The quartet played on a donated set of Amati instruments.
The LaSalle Quartet was best known for its espousal of the Second Viennese School of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, and of the European modernists who derived from that tradition, though they also performed standard classical and romantic literature. The Quartet gave the premiere of Witold Lutosławski's String Quartet in Stockholm in 1965. György Ligeti dedicated his Second String Quartet to the group, and they premiered it in Baden-Baden on December 14, 1969. The quartet has been credited with the "Zemlinsky Renaissance," as Zemlinsky remained largely unknown until they performed his works. The quartet won the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis for their recording of his four string quartets.
The Alban Berg, Artemis, Amernet, Prazak and Vogler string quartets are among the world-famous ensembles who studied performance with members of the LaSalle Quartet.
The LaSalle Quartet was the quartet-in-residence at the University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music, and cellist Lee Fiser taught there until his retirement in 2017. Jack Kirstein, cellist from 1955 to 1975, died in August 1995. Henry Meyer died in December 2006. Walter Levin lived and worked for many years in Basel, Switzerland, then moved to a senior citizens' home in Chicago, he died August 6, 2017. Violist Peter Kamnitzer died in Israel on February 23, 2016, at the age of 93. He is survived by his wife, Dr. Neora “Sophy” Kamnitzer. Original violist Max Felde continued his career in N.Y.C., later moving to the west coast of Canada to raise his family with violinist Aurora Felde. Max Felde continued his musical career as assistant principal viola of the CBC Chamber Orchestra, violist in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for over 25 years, in addition to being an accomplished classical instrument maker. Max died in 2005. Lee Fiser joined the Quartet in 1975 with the support of Jack Kirstein and his wife Jeanne, a well-known Cincinnati pianist, when Jack left the Quartet to continue teaching at C.C.M., playing duets with his wife here and abroad, and conducting the Northern Kentucky Symphony (a community orchestra).
Walter Levin, 1st violin
Henry W. Meyer, 2nd violin
Peter Kamnitzer, viola
Richard Kapuscinski, violoncello
Max Felde (1946-1949), viola
Jack Kirstein (1955-1975)
Lee Fiser (joined 1975)
Walter Levin (December 6, 1924 - August 6, 2017) was the founder, first violinist, and guiding spirit of the LaSalle Quartet (active 1947–1987), which was known for its championing of contemporary composers, for its recordings of the Second Viennese School (Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, and Anton Webern), as well as for its intellectually penetrating interpretations of the classical and romantic quartet repertory, in particular the late quartets of Beethoven. Levin was also an important pedagogue, having taught many of the world’s leading string quartets, among them the Alban Berg Quartet and the Arditti Quartet; other prominent students include the conductor James Levine, the violinist Christian Tetzlaff and the pianist Stefan Litwin.
Levin was Professor of Music for 33 years at the College Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati, where the LaSalle Quartet was quartet in residence, and subsequently taught chamber music at the Steans Institute of the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, at the Basel Academy of Music in Switzerland, and the Lübeck Academy of Music in Germany.
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