Eugene Fodor died on Saturday, of cirrhosis, his wife has told
the New York Times. Fodor made his debut aged ten, playing the
Bruch Violin Concerto with the Denver Symphony Orchestra, and later
studied at the Juilliard School, Indiana University and the
University of Southern California. His teachers included Ivan
Galamian, Josef Gingold and Jascha Heifetz, the last of whom Fodor
particularly admired. He told The Strad in July 1994, ‘studying
with Heifetz was one of the most enjoyable years of my life.’
In 1972 Fodor won the Paganini Violin Competition, and in 1974 he became the first American to take the highest honour at the International Tchaikovsky Competition – a considerable achievement at the height of the cold war. He took second place in the competition, no first place being awarded.
He was known for his natural technique, although, as he told The Strad in the same July 1994 interview, other elements of playing the violin appealed to him: ‘Violin playing is special to me not only from the point of view of its technical scope, which is virtually limitless, but also for its song-like characteristics.'
His later career was overshadowed by personal problems and, in July 1989, he was arrested for possession of cocaine and heroin. His career never recovered and in August of the same year, the New York Times carried an obituary-type feature about his life: ‘From Tchaikovsky to Heroin: A Brilliant Violinist’s Decline’.