Paul Phillips, who served as first violinist with the orchestra for 40 years, has died aged 77

cr. Todd Rosenberg

Violinist Paul Phillips © Todd Rosenberg Photography

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Violinist Paul Phillips died on 27 March 2024 following a long illness, at his home in Chicago. The 77-year-old was a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for 40 years from 1980 until his retirement in 2020.

Phillips was born in Canton, OH and began studying the violin at the age of four after his father showed him an old instrument retrieved from his family’s closet. He learnt from William Taylor and later attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying violin and chamber music with William Kroll of the Kroll Quartet, Endre Granat of the Cleveland Orchestra, and Donald Weilerstein of the Cleveland Quartet.

Prior to joining the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Phillips became a member of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in 1968, where he regularly performed as a member of the Indianapolis Quartet. He joined the Detroit Symphony Orchestra four years later in 1972.

Phillips joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1980 at the invitation of music director Sir Georg Solti, where he served in the first violin section until his retirement in 2020. He was a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Alumni Association and served as its president.

As a chamber musician, he collaborated regularly with flautist Donald Peck and Melody Lord, as well as ensembles such as the Gold Coast Chamber Players, Chicago Nine Ensemble, Ensemble à Corde, Chicago Pro Musica, the Chicago Symphony Quartet and Music of the Baroque.

Phillips performed on a 1760 Joseph Gagliano violin for many years. He is survived by his husband, sister and a nephew.

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