Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wilbert Frisch Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Violinist Played for 47 Years Nov. 4, 1918 - Nov. 1, 2014

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wilbert Frisch Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Violinist Played for 47 Years Nov. 4, 1918 - Nov. 1, 2014

Article excerpt

When Wilbert Frisch started playing the violin, at age 4, his first teacher was his father, a mail carrier. The young musician was a quick learner. In 1937, at the age of 16, he won a spot in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under music director Otto Klemperer.

He played with the orchestra for 47 years - not including Army service during World War II - and with several other local groups, including the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Pittsburgh Opera and the Schenley String Quartet, which performed in local grade schools. But friends and family remember him as much more than a prolific musician.

"When you had a conversation with Willie Frisch, you walked away feeling good. He was just a friendly person and a wonderful violinist," said Richard DiAdamo, a retired PSO violinist.

Mr. Frisch of Mt. Lebanon died Saturday of natural causes. He was 95.

A Pittsburgh native, Mr. Frisch grew up in Mount Oliver and attended South Hills High School. At the age of 13, he was sent to New York to study with teachers from the Eastman School and the Curtis Institute, said his son Ron of Upper St. Clair.

A few years later, as a member of the PSO (along with his brother, August, a double-bassist), he bunked with another budding talent on concert tours - Lorin Maazel, then a PSO violinist, who would later become the orchestra's music director.

During the war, the multi-talented musician played clarinet in a band he led that provided entertainment to troops, as it did on Omaha Beach two days after the invasion of Normandy, Ron said. Upon Mr. Frisch's return, the orchestra's new leader, Fritz Reiner, invited him to become the PSO's assistant concertmaster, and he eventually became its associate concertmaster. At Mr. Reiner's request, the violinist went back to school, graduating from Duquesne University with a degree in music education. …

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