First Violin Section
Lou Gehrig, the great Yankee baseball star, once said, “I am the luckiest man on earth.” I feel exactly the same about myself. The only difference is that I am a longtime Boston Red Sox fan, resulting in premature gray hair and aging. However, this year we Red Sox fans will replace “wait till next year” with “expect the unexpected.”
I have been blessed to earn a livelihood in two great professions and, if I had to do it over again, I would follow the same path. I was fortunate to study violin with two great teachers, Maurice Freedman and Richard Burgin, longtime concertmaster with the Boston Symphony. Both men had a great influence on my musical life.
My most memorable achievement was being accepted into the Springfield Symphony at age 16. I have been playing professionally for 55 continuous years now and am just starting to get the hang of it. Playing in five sharps or flats is still a challenge.
A good part of my military duty was spent with the West Point band playing piccolo in the band and violin in the orchestra, following five months of infantry training. I enjoyed my tour of military duty, especially with the West Point band. During this period, I decided to pursue a career in engineering rather than full time music, taking advantage of the GI bill to help with my college expenses.
I graduated from Northeastern University in 1959 with a BSME and worked in this field until my retirement in 1997. I am very proud of my achievements in engineering, receiving many patents along the way.
While attending Northeastern, I was very fortunate to be involved in musical studies at the New England Conservatory (conveniently located next door), playing in their symphony orchestra, participating in chamber music ensembles, and continuing my violin studies with Richard Burgin. Just prior to my graduation from Northeastern, I was offered a viola contract with the Boston Symphony but stayed the course with no regrets.
I have played in the Hartford Symphony continuously since 1960 and it has truly been a wonderful experience for me. Fritz Mahler, Arthur Winograd, Michael Lankester, and Edward Cumming have all tried to make me a better musician.
My wonderful wife, Julianna, is a violin and viola teacher in the area and has played with the Hartford, Springfield, and Worcester symphonies. I have a daughter, Veronica, who is an outstanding violinist with the Utah Symphony. My son, Marty, was a fine violist but he heard too many viola jokes and is now concentrating on his engineering career.
I play with a Strad (Stradivarious). (Notice I said “play with” rather than “play on,” because that is the name of my dog.) Strads are not that expensive and no violinist should be without one.