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Lillian Fuchs

FUCHS, LILLIAN (1901–1995), U.S. violist and one of the first women to perform as a permanent member of a string quartet in America. Her musical family included her father, Philip, an amateur violinist; and brothers JOSEPH (1899–1997), a well-known violinist, and HARRY (1908–1986), a cellist. After early study of the piano, Lillian switched to the violin, studying with Louis Svencenski (1862–1926). She enrolled in the Institute of Musical Art (now Juilliard) and studied violin with Franz Kneisel (1865–1926) and composition with Percy Goetschius (1853–1943). In 1924, she earned the silver medal for highest honors, the Morris Loeb Prize, and the Seligman Prize in composition. Fuchs married Ludwig Stein, a business man and amateur musician in 1930. They had twin daughters, Carol Stein (Amado), a violinist, and Barbara Stein (Mallow), a cellist, born in 1935.

Fuchs's debut concert as a violinist took place in 1926. That same year, invited by Marianne Kneisel to join an all-female string quartet, she switched to viola. In 1927, Lillian joined the Perolé String Quartet as violist. In addition to live concerts, the Perolé Quartet was featured on regular Sunday radio broadcasts over WOR in New York City. Fuchs performed with them for 15 years and went on to play with the Budapest String Quartet as a second violist, which gave her acceptance in the highest ranks of chamber music.

In 1940 she began to concertize with her brother Joseph Fuchs. Their highly acclaimed performances of the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante, helped bring this and other classic duos to new life. Fuchs also enjoyed a career as a soloist with major symphony orchestras. Fuchs championed contemporary music and several composers created works written especially for her, including Bohuslav Martinu, Three Madrigals (Madrigaly, 1947) and Sonata for Viola and Piano (1955); Quincy Porter, Duo for Viola and Harp (1957); and Jacques de Menasce, Sonata for Viola and Piano (1955). Fuchs adapted many works for viola, such as Bach's Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello; she was the first violist to record all six Bach suites, which she did on Decca records. She composed some of her own music, including Jota, for violin and piano, and wrote a number of works devoted to the development of viola technique.

In her long career, Fuchs taught and coached other chamber music performers, including Isaac *Stern and Pinchas *Zukerman. In 1962, the Manhattan School of Music engaged her to coach chamber music. She accepted a post at Juilliard in 1971 and in 1989, she joined the faculty at Mannes College of Music, teaching at both institutions until 1993.


A.D. Williams . Lillian Fuchs, First Lady of the Viola (1994).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.