Bassist Anthony Bianco died on 24 October at the age of 94. He
was a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for 55 years, 26
of those as principal.
Bianco played the tuba at high school and only took up the double bass after graduating in 1935. From 1937 to 1944 he studied with Samuel Levitan, and later took lessons from Dimitrios Dounis. While studying with Levitan, Bianco played in jazz bands, and in 1941 he had an opportunity to join the Artie Shaw Jazz Orchestra. He chose to pursue a classical career because he wanted to play under Toscanini. He fulfilled that ambition in 1943 when he subbed for the NBC Symphony Orchestra.
In 1944 he was appointed principal bass of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Fritz Reiner. Bianco stepped down as principal in 1969 but remained with the orchestra as principal laureate until his retirement in 1999.
During the 50s and 60s he played at the Chatauqua Festival in New York and in the orchestra of the Casals Festivals in Puerto Rico. In 1988 he was selected by the Pittsburgh Symphony to represent the orchestra in the World Philharmonic in Montreal.
Bianco taught bass for 60 years at Carnegie Mellon University, and between 1956 and 1970 he taught in a summer programme at Chatham College. He received the International Society of Bassists's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.