The founding violist of the Juilliard Quartet, Raphael Hillyer, has died at the age of 96. Born in New York, he had already begun studying the violin when he visited Leningrad in 1924 and received ear-training from the 18-year-old Dmitri Shostakovich. Hillyer studied mathematics at Dartmouth and music at the Curtis Institute and Harvard, where fellow student Leonard Bernstein wrote him a violin sonata in 1939.

Hillyer played violin in the Boston Symphony Orchestra for four years before switching to viola to form the Juilliard Quartet in 1946. He performed in the quartet for 23 years before leaving to teach chamber music and continue playing as a recitalist. He taught at Yale, Harvard, the Juilliard School and Boston University, among other institutions, and was a mentor to several ensembles, including the Tokyo Quartet.