The Australian-born, US-based violinist was 79 years old


Geoffrey Michaels |

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Geoffrey Michaels was born in Perth, Western Australia and began playing the violin at the age of five. Recognised as a prodigy, at 14 he became the youngest performer ever to win the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s concerto competition, and he toured Australia as a recitalist and soloist with the major orchestras.

In 1961 at the age of 16, he was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music where he studied violin with Efrem Zimbalist, and violin and viola with Oscar Shumsky. While still a student, he accepted the Curtis Quartet’s invitation to become a member - a position he held until 1969. He was also a founding member of the Philadelphia-based Liebesfreud Quartet. Fellow violinist Philip Kates described Michaels as ’a long-time treasured quartet companion and a personal and professional inspiration.’

Michaels also performed with numerous other chamber ensembles, including the Janus Piano Trio, Performers’ Committee for Twentieth Century Music in New York, Richardson Chamber Players in Princeton, and Vancouver New Music Society.

Michaels was a prize winner in the Tchaikovsky Competition, the Queen Elisabeth Competition, and the Concours Jacques Thibaud in Paris. As a soloist, he appeared throughout Europe, North America and in his native Australia. In the US, he performed in venues such as Tully Hall, the Library of Congress, and the Kennedy Center, featuring solo works by Berg, Kurt Weill, Arvo Part and Alfred Schnittke. His performance of the US premiere of Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso, was broadcast in both the US and in the former Soviet Union.

An experienced teacher of violin, viola and chamber music, Michaels based himself in the US and taught at the New School of Music (now part of Temple University), Princeton University, and Swarthmore College. He served as professor at Florida State University and at the University of British Columbia. 

He performed on a 1733 Carlo Bergonzi violin made in Cremona.

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