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Vardi, Emanuel


Biographical History

Emanuel Vardi (1917-2011) is considered to be one of the greatest violists of the twentieth century, giving concerts and teaching across the United States and in Europe.

Emanuel Vardi was born April 21, 1915, in Jerusalem to musician parents, Joseph and Anna Jaffa Vardi, a violinist and pianist respectively. As they both taught at the Conservatory, it was only natural that by the age of three, Emanuel was receiving lessons on both instruments from his parents. The family immigrated to New York in the 1920's where Vardi's musical education continued. At seven, Vardi dropped the piano and started focused violin lessons with Joseph Borisoff, Leopold Auer, and Auer's assistant, Khusdo. At the age of twelve, in spite of his age, he was accepted at the Institute of Musical Art (later the Julliard School) where he studied under Constance Seeger. In spite of his talent, he dropped out of school for two years during which time he unsuccessfully auditioned for the Curtis Institute. Returning to Seeger's instruction, Vardi received the additional lessons necessary for a successful re-audition for the Julliard School. Ultimately, though, Vardi did not graduate from Julliard.

By 1937, Vardi had heard a recording of violist William Primrose which inspired him to discard the violin and take up serious study of the viola, something Julliard did not offer. The Metropolitan Opera offered Vardi a job, which he declined in order to study with his inspiration, William Primrose. At the time, Primrose played in the NBC Symphony as directed by Toscanini, and soon found a position for him as well. During World War II, he played in the US Navy band.

Vardi was married three times: first to Margaret Bernhard, which ended in divorce; second to Greta Mayer, producing two daughters and ending in divorce; then finally to violist/violinist Lenore Weinstock in 1984. Since then, he actively concertized across the country, wrote music for the viola and expanded its limited repertoire, recorded music, and gave master classes. In 2007, he and his wife moved to North Bend, Washington, where they soon became involved in the local arts community, culminating in the organization of the Snoqualmie Valley Music Festival in 2010. Vardi died of cancer on January 29, 2011.

Vardi's career extended beyond performing: he was a professor at Temple University, Manhattan School of Music, and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana; between 1970 and 1980; he went into producing at record labels such as Audio Fidelity and MGM as well as conducting various orchestras across the country; and in 1993, successfully established a second career as a painter after a broken wrist and torn rotator cuff forced him to put down the viola.

"Sound Values" by Tully Potter in Strad Magazine (January 1985, vol. 95 no. 1136): 690-2 (b. 21 April 1917, in Jerusalem; parents taught at Conservatory; father Joseph was violinist; mother Anna Jaffa was pianist; Vardi started piano/violin lessons at 3; immigrated to NYC in the 1920's; started lessons with Joseph Borisoff, Leopold Auer, and Khusdo at 7; accepted into Institute of Musical Art/Julliard School at 12; studied under Constance Seeger; dropped out for 2 years, failed audition for Curtis Institute; Seeger trained Vardi up for re-audition into Julliard; Vardi did not graduate; viola department non-existent at Julliard at the time; declined job at Met; studied under William Primrose, who helped him get into Toscanini's NBC Symphony)

"Emanuel Vardi Obituary" by Margalit Fox in The New York Times. Accessed June 22, 2011 at (died Jan 29th, 2011, in North Bend, WA; studied at Julliard until 20; married three times: 1st to Margaret Bernhard, 2nd to Greta Mayer (had two daughters, though), both ending in divorce; married Lenore Weinstock, also a violinist/violist, in 1984; broke wrist and tore rotator cuff in 1993; critics praise his canvases as an artist)

"Emanuel Vardi Obituary" by Don Catchpole in Accessed June 22, 2011 at (d. of cancer; inspired to take up the viola after hearing a recording of Primrose; served in the US Navy Band during WWII; moved to North Bend in 2007; became involved in arts community; organized Snoqualmie Valley Music Fesitval in 2010)

"Emanuel Vardi: Breaking Boundaries" by Kathryn Steely in the American Viola Society Journal (Vol. 19, No. 1): 11-21. (took a break from concert life from 1970 to 1980 and went into producing; working for record labels like Audio Fidelity and MGM; conducting for various orchestras across the country)

Article on Vardi at Calvin Sieb's website, accessed June 22, 2011 at (professor at Temple University, Manhattan School of Music, and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana)

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Emanuel Vardi papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 7894
Scope and Contents

Collection contains photographs, original drawings and paintings, concert programs, newspaper clippings and scrapbooks, awards, posters of concerts, CDs of Vardi's performances, and other material relating to the life and career of Emanuel Vardi, 1941-2005.

Dates: 1941-2005