Remembering Longtime Houston Violinist and Professor Fredell Lack (1922-2017)

August 20, 2017, 4:42 PM · American violinist and teacher Fredell Lack, who taught many students including current New York Philharmonic concertmaster Frank Huang, died Sunday at her home in Houston at the age of 95.

Fredell Lack
Violinist Fredell Lack.

"Through her artistry, passion, and love of music, Fredell left an indelible mark on all who knew her or her music," said viola professor Larry Wheeler, a colleague of Lack's at the University of Houston's Moores School of Music, where Lack taught for 50 years, from 1959 until her retirement in 2009. Wheeler also filmed a a two-hour interview with Lack about her life and career, here is Part 1 and here is Part 2.

"Miss Lack was a world-class musician, an extraordinary teacher, and an exemplary humanitarian," said former student David Wallace, a violinist-violist, composer and teacher. "She played no small role in building what would become the University of Houston's Moores School of Music and in mentoring several generations of string players." Besides Huang, Lack also taught violinists David Mazzeo, Pálína Árnadóttir, Joyce Hammann, Mariko Inaba, Anabel Ramirez, Gloria Justen, Sharman Plesner, William Pu, Gregory Ewer, Beverly Shin, Maurice Sklar, Martin Valdeschack, Chuong Vu, and Zuo Jun.

"Precious few teachers have the power to make you magically play better simply from their presence, collected wisdom, carefully chosen instructions, and utter faith in human potential," Wallace said on his Facebook page. "Miss Lack once said, 'You never really know how to practice until you've got a full studio, a spouse, small children, and only one spare hour a day.' She emphasized practicing efficiently and attacking difficulties head-on rather than squandering energy on things you have already mastered," Wallace said. "She compiled a book of excerpts of the most difficult passages in the solo violin repertoire, practicing and rotating them all regularly so that they remained ever ready in her fingers and memory. She encouraged all of us violinists to do the same."

"One of Miss Lack's golden strategies, which I've never seen anyone else teach or describe: practice fast technical passages slightly under tempo using slurred staccato," Wallace said. "Something about this exercise requires a refinement of coordination, rhythm, and articulation that just works wonders and pays huge dividends quickly."

Born in Tulsa, Okla. to two Latvian immigrants, Lack started playing the violin at age six, according to an article in University of Houston Magazine. She started her studies in Oklahoma with Tosca Berger Kramer, who gave her daily lessons for four years. Her family moved to Houston when she was 10, and at age 12 she moved to New York to study with Louis Persinger at The Juilliard School. During her 80-year performing career, Lack played the 1727 "Baron Deurbroucq" Stradivari violin, and a Tourte bow.

Lack was married to gastroenterologist Ralph Eichhorn from 1947 until his death in 2014. She is survived by her children Dr. Eric Eichhorn and Ardis Eichhorn, as well as grandchildren.

Replies

August 21, 2017 at 12:32 AM · Wow. What a life! What an inspiration!

August 21, 2017 at 06:28 AM · I loved her

August 21, 2017 at 12:45 PM · A great teacher inspiring many.

Beverly Green

August 22, 2017 at 05:10 PM · After moving to Houston and before going to New York, she studied with the amazing Josephine Boudreaux, concertmisstress of the Houston Symphony (in an era when women just didn't get those kind of positions.) I was blessed to study with both of them!

August 23, 2017 at 01:05 AM · She was such an inspiration to my daughter Wendy Putnam, and to our entire family!

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