Emanuel Vardi, one of the leading violists of the 20th century,
has died in Seattle, Washington, at the age of 93. Born in
Jerusalem, he was four when his family emigrated to New York. He
had violin lessons with Joseph Borisoff and Auer's assistant
Khusdo, and then studied with Constance Seeger and Edward Dethier
at the Institute of Musical Art (which became the Juilliard
School). His chamber music coach there, cellist Felix Salmond,
suggested that he switch to the viola.
Vardi took viola lessons with William Primrose, with whom he played in the NBC Symphony Orchestra. He made his New York recital debut in 1941 and included in his programme Primrose's arrangement for viola and piano of Paganini's 24th Caprice. He went on to record all the Paganini Caprices in a career that included spells playing in the Guilet Quartet, conducting the South Dakota Symphony, and working as a record producer. He also composed music for the violin and the viola.
From the 1950s Vardi took periodic breaks away from the concert hall to focus on painting and photography. He had a number of one-man shows as a painter, and when a broken wrist ended his performing career in 1993, he devoted his time to art and teaching.