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Laurie Niles

Violinist and Pedagogue Werner Scholz (1926-2012)

November 1, 2012 at 8:02 PM

German violinist and pedagogue Werner Scholz, whose many former students populate orchestral positions and professorships across Europe and United States, died on October 10 in Berlin at age 86.

Werner ScholzBorn in 1926 in Dresden, Scholz could trace his musical lineage to Joseph Joachim, as Scholz was a student of Gustav Havemann, a student of Joachim. Scholz was concertmaster of the Dresden Philharmonic from 1948 to 1951. In 1951, he became assistant and then successor to Havemann in the city of Cottbus (in East Germany), and from 1953, in East Berlin. In 1961, he was appointed professor of violin at the Academy of Music "Hanns Eisler" in Berlin. Scholz also performed as a soloist throughout Europe.

Scholz's life coincided with World War II and the division of Germany that followed it; thus for much of his life, he lived in Communist East Germany. Werner Scholz was concertmaster of the East Berlin Berlin Symphony Orchestra from 1956 to 1974, under the baton of the conductor Kurt Sanderling, who was a close friend of Dmitri Shostakovich. During those years, Scholz maintained a close personal friendship with Soviet violinist David Oistrakh, who conducted more and more in his later years and often stayed with Scholz at his home, when visiting Berlin.

German reunification in 1990 allowed Scholz to open his studio to Western violinists wishing to study with him, including the Chicago-based violinist Rachel Barton Pine.

"After the wall fell, I had the privilege of studying with him off and on during my late teens," said Rachel Barton Pine. "His influence on my playing was profound, in the core German repertoire and beyond. I returned for some lessons before recording my Brahms and Joachim concerto album with the Chicago Symphony, which I dedicated to him. I am so thankful to have known him; he will be truly missed."

Perhaps most notably, Scholz's students went on to successful careers in music as soloists, concertmasters, orchestral players and professors. Former student David Yonan of Chicago did some counting and: 19 of Scholz's students have held concertmaster positions, in groups such as the Staatskapelle Berlin, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and more. Fourteen of his students went on to careers as violin professors: Walter Karl Zeller, Antje Weithaas, Wolf-Dieter Batzdorf, Michael Erxleben, Joachim Scholz, Axel Wilczok, Katinka Rebling and Eberhard Felz in Berlin; Peter Mirring and Matthias Wollong in Dresden; Katrin Scholz in Bremen; Sylvio Krause in Rostock; and Olschofka Felix and David Yonan in the United States. Scholz's students won a total of 102 prizes in various international competitions: some of his award-winning students have included Rachel Barton Pine, Wolf-Dieter Batzdorf, Thomas Böttcher, Michael Erxleben, Sabine Gabbe, Angela Jaffe, Peter Mirring, Matthias Wollong, Conrad Muck, Thorsten Rosenbusch, Joachim Scholz, Katrin Scholz, Ilya Sekler, Lothar Strauss, Petra law, Kai Vogler, Antje Weithaas, David Yonan, Song Quiang and Marta Murvai.

As Yonan said, "His legacy will live on in all of us who studied with this great master and warm human being."

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