Concertmaster with the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1966 to 1994, violinist Norman Carol has died aged 95

Norman Carol

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Norman Carol, a former long-standing concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra for nearly 30 years, died on 28 April 2024 at the age of 95 in Wynnewood, PA.

Born on 1 July 1928 in Philadelphia to Russian immigrants Anna and Max Carol, he began his violin studies at age six with Sascha Jacobinoff, following in the footsteps of his older sister, who also played the instrument. At age nine, he performed his first concert, and at thirteen, he was invited to attend the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Efrem Zimbalist. He served as the concertmaster of the student orchestra at Tanglewood from 1946 to 1947.

After graduating from Curtis, he embarked on a solo career and recorded a recital for RCA in 1954. He joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra under conductors Serge Koussevitzsky and Charles Munch.

He was drafted in the US Army for the Korean War. After his discharge in 1955, he became concertmaster of the New Orleans Symphony and, subsequently, the Minneapolis Symphony, where he premiered Polish-American conductor and composer Stanisław Skrowaczewski’s Violin Concerto.

He joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as concertmaster in 1966 at the invitation of Eugene Ormandy, serving for nearly three decades until 1994. He performed solos with the orchestra nearly season, including works by Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruch, Nielsen, Harrison, Britten, Bernstein and Jarrett.

’Norman’s passing is the end of an era in our history,’ the orchestra said in a statement. ’We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and students. He will be remembered not only as a consummate musician but also as a gifted and devoted leader of the orchestra and as a mentor and friend to many.’

’He was a great concertmaster because he was a great leader of people, a great diplomat, a direct and unrelenting defender of tradition and reason,’ said violinist Paul Arnold. ’I will always miss Norman’s impact on my life in the Orchestra, and his unique and character-filled way of defining our traditions.’

After he retired from the orchestra, he taught, performed, and recorded with the Philadelphia Piano Quartet, and returned to his alma mater to teach orchestral repertoire at Curtis from 1979 to 2014. He played on a 1743 Guarneri ‘del Gesu’ violin that formerly belonged to Albert Spalding.

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