Samuel Applebaum

February 23, 2007 at 07:06 PM · does anybody know about Samuel Applebaum? he wrote the series of book The Way they play and seems to me like an interesting character. He also taught a younger Erick Friedman.....

Replies (45)

February 24, 2007 at 01:21 AM · This gentleman was Michael Tree's father. He was a noted and enthusiastic teacher of the violin.

February 24, 2007 at 06:54 AM · Samuel Applebaum also wrote a violin tutor called Stringbuilders and has producerd many chamber volumes in different combinations for young students all of which give a wealth of material.

February 24, 2007 at 08:03 AM · Greetings,

he wrote an excellent book on violin technique called `TheArt and Science of Violin playing.` it is a superb colelction of ideas with the odd bit of loopyness sthrown in,



February 24, 2007 at 12:38 PM · I started playing the violin in the early 60s and Applebaum method books (published by Belwin?) were ubiquitous. I found his book With the Artists in a college library when I was a teenager and I was hooked on the violin world. I imagined myself a future Heifetz. Then, in my early 20s I was a property manager at an ASTA convention where he was the clinician. He played very well and gave master classes even in the top repertory. I arranged for a private lesson. I played miserably but he was very kind.

My teacher recalls that he had a wonderful bow arm.

February 25, 2007 at 02:10 AM · Used his StringBuilder books for years and years, even after the advent of the newer glitzier methods with all the pictures and infantile side-bars...They're no-nonsense, logical and They Work. Mr. Applebaum made Mischa Mischakoff appear tall !!!

April 14, 2007 at 11:17 PM · He recorded an interesting LP: "How to Develop a Beautiful Tone"

(planning to record to computer when I get the ground loop out of my turntable) ...

April 15, 2007 at 06:09 AM · At the conservatorium library I used to frequent some wag had gone through every single copy of the early 'The Way They Play' books (when Mr Applebaum was a younger and thinner man) and, with a dark pencil, altered each and every photo of him to make him look like Groucho Marx, complete with cigar artfully held in his fingers.

I am very respectful of Samuel Applebaum and am happy to see him held in such high regard here.

January 13, 2008 at 05:04 PM · I studied with Samuel Applebaum for about 6 years in the latter half of the 60's while a teenager living in in New Jersey.

He gave me a very firm technical foundation which still serves me well to this day. We never even looked at String Builders; we studied the etudes and works of the masters, and most thoroughly I might add. He was a masterful pedagogue, in my opinion.

January 13, 2008 at 05:04 PM · I studied with Samuel Applebaum for about 6 years in the latter half of the 60's while a teenager living in in New Jersey.

He gave me a very firm technical foundation which still serves me well to this day. We never even looked at String Builders; we studied the etudes and works of the masters, and most thoroughly I might add. He was a masterful pedagogue, in my opinion.

March 3, 2008 at 01:09 AM · The yearly Samuel Applebaum or SOMA concert is taking place this Sunday in Maplewood New Jersey at 3:00. I also started violin with the string builder series in the 1960's.

March 3, 2008 at 02:51 AM · He was Michael Tree's father? I had no idea. Wouldn't expect a difference in last names.

March 3, 2008 at 03:41 AM · I was suprised too by the difference in last names but there is a very intersting story behind it. His original last name was of course Applebaum, but his teacher Efrem Zimbalist who in addition to being a top virtuoso, was savy enough to know that to make it in America people had to remember your name! So, to the credit of Zimbalist's suggestion, he changed to Tree (which I guess is as good a name as any!). If you want Marina I will gladly post the excerpt from Roy Malan's way cool bio of Zimbalist in which Tree tells the story about his name(gotta find the book first, messy room), you won't want to miss it, cool story!!(Don't worry about copyright Laurie, I'll cite the author and everything)

March 3, 2008 at 04:14 AM · Greetings,

presumably Applebaum is apple tree. He`s lucky he didn`t end up being called Granny Smith of the Guarneri.



March 3, 2008 at 07:13 PM · Vincent, you're in Charlottesville? Funny 'cause the first time I ever met Michael Tree was at a concert the Guarneri did at UVA. Thanks for the info! I went to JMU for a while.

March 11, 2008 at 08:48 PM · I know an older gent who studied with Sam A. as a child in Brooklyn; he said he was a wonderful man.

February 1, 2010 at 05:47 AM ·

Does anyone know Dr. Samuel Applebaum's birth and death years?  I've googled and wiki'ed and  can't find.

February 1, 2010 at 01:19 PM ·

The wealth and extent of materials Mr.Applebaum published is mind-boggling. I have made great use in PS of String Builder and the interchangeable chamber music books. I have become interested in reading more of the peragogical works of various past masters, including Applebaum's stuff. Never seemed to find time while at PS :(  , but keeping the brain working is a good thing for retirees, however young :) ,and my little band of private students may benefit. Su

February 1, 2010 at 02:29 PM ·

I can only tell you my own experiences with him in the late '60's.  I agree that there is no reliable biography of him, and there should be.  This would be an excellent project for some bright graduate student.  And Michael Tree's his son, yes;  Michael's quartet (Guarneri) went into retirement not too long ago.

I took lessons in his home in Bloomfield (not Bloomington), I think it was. I took the Erie Lakawana Train from Manhattan, where I was attending school at MSM.  His wife fed me chicken soup, and in the studio I had to sit to take lessons:  I'm so tall (6'3") and my bow hit the ceiling.  The studio walls were covered with photos of eminent people and one wall was covered with shelves full of music, the long wall of the studio.

He was very kindly and told me I was going to be an artist.  When I started making money as a freelancer, though, I quit school and did not graduate until many years later, and then in Houston.  But my original contact with him was that my standpartner in the Tulsa Philharmonic was a personal friend of Applebaum's and wrote me a letter of introduction.  Mr. Applebaum was giving a recital/demonstration in Fayetteville, Arkansas and  went there and met him, and auditioned. 

Somebody needs to do his bio:  _They Way They Play_ are collectors' items and I'm sure have a place in music history with respect to violin pedagogy.

February 1, 2010 at 02:40 PM ·

Great story, Connie! But I think you're thinking of Bloomfield, not Bloomington. Bloomfield is a town in New Jersey, although by the time I came along in the early 70's I seem to remember the Applebaums living in Maplewood (hence the concert listed above being in Maplewood). They're not very far apart.

I miss those old Erie Lackawanna trains. They were classy-looking, unlike the NJ Transit cattle cars that overtook them...

February 1, 2010 at 03:30 PM ·

Bloomfield, that's right.  Yes, and it was a nice walk from the train station to his house. Sorry to hear the trains have changed.  Summer before I started at MSM I was in Newark!! 

As they say, if only I knew then what I know now!  But it's been a wonderful trip..

February 1, 2010 at 05:30 PM ·

Birth date appears to be 1904. He was announced as attending the New Jersey ASTA conference in August, 1984.   There was a memorial concert for him in September 1986 at the West Orange YM-YWHA.  (New York Times).  So he died sometime in that period,  Can't find an obituary.

February 2, 2010 at 12:31 AM ·

I knew Sam Applebaum as a kid. I believe he died when I was 12, so that would be somewhere around 1986.

Very nice man, and I later came to appreciate his The Way They Play series. Someone should find a way to reissue them as they have a lot of info. about string players that I doubt is available elsewhere.

October 23, 2010 at 04:55 PM ·

Hi, Connie,

Small world,when did you play in theTulsa Phil? I did also.

October 23, 2010 at 05:18 PM ·

 My very first violin book I ever had when I started the violin was 'String Builder' by Samuel Applebaum [seen here]. I love that book so much :) 

October 23, 2010 at 05:28 PM ·

I have a couple of the volumes in The Way They Play series that I was lucky enough to find in a second-hand bookshop a while ago.  Unfortunately, they were the only ones there, but fortunately one has the article about Heifetz, together with an interview.  

I don't suppose they're still in print.  Reprinting would probably be out of the question financially, but what about placing digital copies on the web?  These books are too valuable a resource to be available to college libraries and collectors only.

October 23, 2010 at 06:15 PM ·

I've just checked on Amazon. Various volumes of  Applebaum's "The Way They Play" are available there, but the pricing is strictly in collectors' country, and well out of the range of most players.  

October 25, 2010 at 05:53 AM ·

I know a family here that has the complete set of books...I only have six of the volumes in my library myself, and they're a popular read with my students when they're waiting around at my studio.

Since the company that originally issued the books is now defunct, I wonder who holds the copyrights on the material?

April 1, 2013 at 08:30 PM · I'm selling my collection:

April 1, 2013 at 10:48 PM · Copyright under current US legislation lasts, I believe, 90 years post mortem (someone correct me if I'm wrong, please). My guess, and it is no more than that, is that the copyright in Samuel Appelbaum's publications now resides with his estate.

April 28, 2016 at 02:43 AM · According to, there is a Samuel Applebaum from Maplewood, NJ, who was born on January 14, 1904 and died on June 1, 1986. Looks to me like it fits. I met him when I was 7 years old and had played for a year. He gave a clinic at West Virginia University in 1982. I use his books all the time!

April 28, 2016 at 02:44 AM · According to, there is a Samuel Applebaum from Maplewood, NJ, who was born on January 14, 1904 and died on June 1, 1986. Looks to me like it fits. I met him when I was 7 years old and had played for a year. He gave a clinic at West Virginia University in 1982. I use his books all the time!

April 28, 2016 at 09:56 AM · Many times I visited Robbies in Newark and wound

up with an Applebaum method book. (String Builder?) Most of the important things I may know, I learned from his books.

I still have whatever I bought and play a refresher once in a while.

April 28, 2016 at 11:33 AM · A quick update on the availability of The Way They Play, and teaching books by Samuel Applebaum: has a few printed copies of TWTP in stock, ranging, depending on the volume in the series, from just under £5 (UK Sterling) to the low three-figures (collector's country). Unfortunately, the books are not available in Amazon's Kindle format. I strongly feel this omission should be rectified by Amazon if printed copies are no longer generally available at sensible prices.

On the other hand, Amazon seem to have in their stock most of Applebaum's teaching books, both in print and in Kindle, and all at reasonable prices.

Google Books don't have TWTP in Ebook format, only print versions of a few of the series, and, as may be expected, at fairly high prices.

Another source, and this is for reading on-line what appears to be all of Applebaum's output, is I haven't investigated this source further because membership of Facebook is a prerequisite. For reasons I'm not going into here, I'm not a member of Facebook.

April 28, 2016 at 09:59 PM · BTW, Michael Tree, formerly of the Guarneri Quartet and still teaching at Curtis, is Samuel Applebaum's son.

December 13, 2016 at 05:25 AM · Hi! I happen happen to be Samuel Applebaum's granddaughter. My name is Frances Leibow-LaMorte, daughter of Sam's daughter Lois Applebaum Leibow (who passed away March 2013). The above message is correct, Michael Tree (my uncle) of the Guarneri Quartet is Sam's son. If there are any questions I could answer please feel free to ask me. I'm not sure how much help I would be since my recollection is that of being around him alot as a child. I've met Itzhak Perlman, Issac Stern, Erick Freidman, and so many people. My grandfather had met Tony Randall and Jack Benny since they both loved and supported the arts in his day. I tagged along with my mom (she was his assistant) while my grandfather had conferences and teaching session at colleges across NJ and PA. I have almost every volume of The Way They Play some autographed to my mom and some still in shrink wrap (sorry I am not parting with them) and I have tons of his teaching books (which I would need to dig thru to see if what's what). Please feel free to contact me here or at

Samuel Applebaum was a devout musician/teacher who loved his students and loved his craft. I remember him very well, He was my Grandpa xo

December 13, 2016 at 08:57 AM · Hi Frances, thanks for checking in.

It is too bad that Samuel Applebaum's writings seemed to have been overshadowed by more recent publications.

December 13, 2016 at 12:35 PM · Hi! I started playing the violin using your Grandfather's approach. It remains my favourite. :)

December 13, 2016 at 01:33 PM · Mr.Brivati right now i'm looking to a book called the art and science of string performance on Amazon.thank you for introducing but i just wanted to be there any other book from same person (art and science of violin playing) as you mentioned above?


December 16, 2016 at 11:15 AM · The art amd science books seem to be rare. I do not have any copies of those. I have mostly String Builders lesson books (violin, viola, cello). Alfred Publishing is who has all the copyrights at this time. I really need to contact someone there that has a desire to try to do something with my Grandfather's work. His method was very traditional, old school- read music first, and he was very focused on bowing techniques. He gave me a couple of lessons however I was really more interested in playing in his yard. If i get any info from Alfred publishing I will post it here. Much success to you all.

December 16, 2016 at 01:20 PM · I have a paperback copy of The Art and Science of String Performance, copyright 1986, that I probably bought in the late 1980s as a young professional. I had no idea that book was hard to find these days. I also have my own ancient copies of his early violin method books, which I use as supplements or as sight reading material. The progression of keys in them does not match up very well with what is generally taught these days, so I don't use them as much as they probably deserve to be used.

It's my understanding that Michael Tree's name change had nothing to do with immigration and everything to do with wanting to be known for himself and not as his father's son. Samuel Applebaum was quite a big name back in the day. Perhaps Ms Lamorte can confirm or correct?

December 17, 2016 at 09:22 PM · That is correct! The story.has been told many different ways (however directly from my mom) it was for professional/career purposes no more, no less. The name stuck and it worked.

December 18, 2016 at 12:24 AM · In my childhood I read a copy of his "With The Masters" (obtained by my father). I don't see it listed on the internet, so I wonder whether he later revised the title. It's an account of interviews he had with various colleagues in the profession, I think Chapter 1 was Paul Beard.

December 19, 2016 at 01:11 AM · I have the "String Builder" books from my childhood. They're very good for a school string class.

December 19, 2016 at 02:44 AM · I have a copy of "With The Masters". Unfortunately, there is no interview with Paul Beard.

December 19, 2016 at 06:07 AM · I love TWTP books. I've been collecting them for awhile, and have multiple copies so that I can loan them out to students and colleagues.

They are a delightful look into the minds of performing artists, the personal anecdotes are really wonderful. A bit old fashioned, and some of the comments especially regarding the musicians of Asian descent are very much the product of their time.

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