Obituary: Erich Gruenberg (1924–2020)

The LSO is saddened to learn of the death of our very distinguished former leader (1962-65), Erich Gruenberg, at the age of 95.

As well as leading the LSO in the era of Pierre Monteux, Jascha Horenstein and many other conductors, he was also an eminent soloist and chamber musician in his own right, and an inspirational teacher. Our thoughts are with his wife Korshed and daughters Joanna and Tina (herself a distinguished violinist in the London Philharmonic Orchestra), and with the rest of his family at this sad time. Erich Gruenberg’s great musical legacy lives on through many fine recordings, and through his students, who include past and current members of the London Symphony Orchestra, among them our First Violinists Maxine Kwok and Will Melvin.

1963 World Tour in Osaka: Pierre Monteux and Erich Gruenberg

In discussion in Osaka with Pierre Monteux during the 1963/64 World Tour © LSO Archive

Erich Gruenberg OBE was born in Vienna in 1924, moving to London in 1946 after a period in Jerusalem leading the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation Orchestra. During his long career he was leader of the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and was first violin with the London String Quartet. His work as a renowned soloist included giving premieres of works – including the first Russian performance of the Britten Violin Concerto in Moscow – by contemporaries including Goldschmidt, McCabe, Holloway, Gerhardt and Messiaen. He was a professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Gruenberg also played on several recordings by The Beatles, including "A Day in the Life", an account of which – including the fancy dress worn during the sessions! – can be read here.

In recognition of his services to music he was awarded an OBE.

Top image: Istvan Kertesz shakes hands with Erich Gruenberg after a concert in Korea during the LSO's World Tour of 1963/64.