April 1, 2004 by

Erick Friedman


Categories: Education, Musicians

efriedman.jpgErick Friedman, a violin virtuoso and Yale music professor, died on March 30 of cancer. He was 64.
A child prodigy, Friedman studied at the Juilliard School of Music and made his New York debut when he was only 14. Three years later, he trained under Jascha Heifetz and played at Carnegie Hall.
In 1960, Friedman signed a contract with RCA that allowed him to play with the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony and London Symphony. He became a regular guest musician and conductor at music festivals all over the world, and led the Garrett Lakes Summer Festival Orchestra in Maryland for more than a decade.
When an automobile accident injured his left arm and hand in the late 1980s, Friedman became a professor of violin and chamber music at Yale University. He continued teaching there until his death.
Friedman was the recipient of the 2000 Ignace J. Paderewski Award for Distinguished Contributions to Society and Culture. He also won a Grammy Award in 1996 for best historical album for his participation in “The Heifetz Collection.”

54 Responses to Erick Friedman

  1. Dale Stuckenbruck

    To hear the most inviting sound ever, his phrasing, his line his color, tonal character, impeccable taste and pitch, next to me for so long, inspired me and many to the core. His patience, encouragement, analysis was extraordinary beyond description. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him……….. I hope many will contribute to his remembrance

  2. Jack Robbins

    Erick Friedman was the foremost influence on my development as a musician. As a student of his for six years, I came to appreciate his immense gifts, both as a teacher and as a performer. To this day, I vividly remember his ability to extemporaneously coalesce essential musical ideas into wonderful analogies. Amazed by his uncanny coupling of intuition and analysis, I’d think to myself, “How DID he come up with that?” for the remainder of the lesson. I wish that I had a fraction of Friedman’s musical insight to communicate to my own students now. He was a true rarity, and, although I unfortunately had not made an effort to stay in touch with him over the years, I too will miss him. The musical ideals he labored to convey to me are indelibly a part of who I am today.

  3. Ann Marie Pocklembo

    A first class musician, teacher, and human being. You continue to be my major musical influence and inspiration, and your kind words of encouragement will live on inside of me forever. For those of us lucky enough to have been in your studio, we will remember the family you created among your students, and your eagerness to have us all support each other in our endeavors. For those of us lucky enough to hear you perform, we will remember the sheer virtuosity, amazing tone, and the brilliance – the unique sound that could only belong to Erick Friedman. The world is a lesser place without you, but you know I will do my best to carry on the tradition. Bravo to you, for a life well lived. God took you too soon, but I know he must have one hell of a Del Gesu waiting for you up there in heaven! Fondly, Ann Marie Pocklembo

  4. Marjorie Talvi

    I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to perform and study with Erick Friedman. He was a very dear man, a sweet person, and a wonderful, loving teacher. He truly opened my eyes and ears to the wonders of great violin playing and music making. He will remain in my heart forever.

  5. Nate Robinson

    I had the great privilege of working with Erick Friedman for about 2 and a half years as his student. Along with being one of the great violinists of all time he was also such a down to earth and wonderful person to get know, and also an extremely gifted teacher. I will greatly miss him and never forget the wonderful things he passed on to me.

  6. Ron Patterson

    I have wonderful memories of Erick, as a friend and colleague, that span more than 40 years. He was a joy to play with; he was a fantastic story teller; he was a man and violinist of great style, charm and class.

  7. Ruurd Kuiper

    Erick Friedman gave a recital in Amsterdam,
    around 30 years ago, with Daphne Spottiswoode.
    My father and I, as a very young boy, attended;
    the encore was Deep River. I often replay the
    melody with the phantastic, unique timbre of
    mr. Friedman in my head. As I do today.
    Ruurd Kuiper

  8. Jeanyi Kim

    As I go through the trials and tribulations of a musician’s life, I still vividly remember all of the invaluable advice Mr. Friedman gave me in my lessons. He was a dear teacher to me and I consider it a most precious gift to have been able to study with him for five years. His beauty of tone on the violin was unmatched and his mastery of the instrument truly inspiring. I will do all that I can to carry on the legacy and tradition of violin playing he so generously handed down to me.
    – Jeanyi Kim

  9. Peter Ferreira

    A great teacher and musician. I will greatly miss Professor Friedman and never forget the great knowledge he passed on to me.
    Erick Friedman will be missed by all who had the luck of learning from him and the world will miss him for the great violinist virtuoso he was.

  10. Anonymous

    I have wonderful memories of Mr. Friedman.
    Mr. Friedman give me a new way and I had a new dream. I never forget the great knowledge he passed on to me. Mr.Friedman will remain in my heart forever!
    I had the great privilege of working with Mr.Friedman as his student.
    I will greatly miss professor Friedman.

  11. Lanfranco Marcelletti Jr

    It was with sadness that I heard about Friedman’s death. He has a very special place in my memory. I conducted for him the Mendelssohn and Tschaikovsky violin concertos at the Garret Lake Festival, of which he was the director, and I will never forget the power and intensity of his playing. I also remember his violin lessons, where I used to accompany his students, where he always had a quiet and funny attitude, that very easily would enchant us. I will miss him and will never forget the great things I learn from him.

  12. Ricardo Juvenal Ferreira

    Mr. Friedman will always remain in my heart and memory, not only as the great violinist he was but, as the great artist and human being.
    I had once the opportunity of working with him at the Itu Music Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
    He impressed me with his happiness and love for music…
    Mr. Friedman, I miss you very much.
    Thank you for everything.

  13. Emmanuel Borowsky

    I only wish that I had had more time with you. I remember every single one of the lessons I had with you and I make sure to do practice everything you’ve told me.

  14. Frank Bushell

    I have just learned of the death of Erick Friedman and I am extremely upset. I bought his LP of Paganini’s Violin Concerto No.1 in the early 1960s and subsequently bought every recording by him that I could lay my hands on –
    unfortunately all too few here in England. I hope that BMG/RCA will now see fit to release many more of Mr Friedman’s recordings on CD – especially his magnificent Prokofiev Violin Concerto No.1 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra
    and Erich Leinsdorf.
    I am very shocked and sad that we have lost
    Erick Friedman so prematurely, but somewhat consoled that we can still hear his wonderful violin playing through his recording legacy.
    May he rest in peace.

  15. Prof. Hartmut Lindemann

    Unfortunatelly, I have never heard Eric Friedman in person, but I know some of his wonderful recordings. (Tchaikovsky/Ozawa, Prokofieff/Leinsdorf)
    I have been disappointed by the rather brief article in this month’s Strad Magazine, and I feel, they should have tried a bit harder to honour the memory of such a great player.
    For me he was the most expressive violinist of his generation, somebody with a superior violinistic style and knowledge, and I am always delighted to notice in his playing some ‘Heifetzian’ details. (such as choice of sound colour, types of shifts and vibrato use)
    This is something admirable, and it makes me happy to hear, that those valuable and thrilling violinistic devices were passed on to him. His playing made a strong emotional impact on me and I am sure on many others listeners. In addition to this, Eric Friedman had so many qualities of his own and great warmth in his playing. All I can do here, is to express my feeling on this occasion. I really wish, I could have met him.

  16. Ann Fontanella

    Each day I wake, I can not forget you Mr. Friedman. He has to this day made a profound impact on my life, my playing, and all that I do. He remains very much alive for me, yet how dearly I miss him.
    Much more than the lessons he gave, he gave to me his life. I promised him, and continue to do what ever I can to make him proud. We will never forget…
    With devotion to a great man and artist, who gave his life toward the continuance of artistic beauty.

  17. Jud McKee

    I, too, share the sentiments of all those who knew Eric Friedman and have expressed their sadness at the loss of this wonderful artist and person. I learned of his passing just a moment ago and, having just recently received his recording of the Bach Dm Concerto with Heifetz as well as his appearance in the Heifetz Master Class video, I will continue to think of him as the young and wholesome student who, Heifetz was obviously so very proud.

  18. Murray Kaufman

    As a clarinetist studying at the North Carolina School of the Arts, I met and enjoyed conversations with Eric Friedman. He let me attend some of his Master Classes, even though
    I was a clarinetist. I cannot express how much I
    learned from him about music, nor could I have asked to be fortunate enough to have met and spoken with him…a man who gave so much, both as
    a person, and through his music. My sincere condolences to his family.

  19. Frederique Poinsenet Le Goff

    I am not a musician, I knew Eric in the 70’s in NYC
    he took me to many of his concerts in europe where some composers had written pieces just for him
    I just found this page looking for him to try to see him this summer on my trip to the states.
    I am happy to know that Eric has a son when i knew him his carreer was before anything else
    I should have tried to find him before and let him know that I will never forget him

  20. Nelson Donley

    The Erick Friedman videos are a priceless testament to a virtuo violinist and wonderful human being. Only recently did I learn of his death, which came as a sad shock, for Erick Friedman was one of those rare individuals whom you’d wish would live forever, or at least until you yourself have gone. Though I never met him in person, I’ve always been a great admirer of his.

  21. Ron Travisano

    Dear Brian,
    I was a personal friend of you fathers at carteret school in West Orange, NJ We became close because we were both creative people when all about us was not particularly in agreement whit the things we liked like music and art. I remember you dad designing and drawing cars in his note books. He use to come to school only for a few hours a day because he had to go home and practice the violin for 8 or so hours. I even remember his favorite green corduroy jacket. He played before our graduating class and it the most important and only thing I really remember about graduation. He was a genious and was as nice as he was talented. Ron Travisano

  22. monte weinstein

    my son barry studied for several years under his tutelage in nyc apts high above but never far from juilliard – my whole family was at bowdoin summer music program 30 years ago circa – he was very relaxed playing, teaching and living – he once gave my son a strad to play but they did not do the bach double with he on his guarneri – he expressed a lot of affection for his family his roots his short boxing career – once at a concert in carnegie hall he played as if an angel was guiding him -he was so at ease even before a packed house – his stage presence was enormous -he at times played turning his head away from his instrument turning to the audience – He did not need to count the attendees it was ok he I felt just wanted them to know I could stand on my head as well and produce these magic notes – he played chess with my youngest son at bowdoin – I felt then what a great dad he will make some day – my three boys enjoyed him then in maine so did the residents who heard him play in their lovely settings -sorry to hear of his loss and my condolences to his entire family

  23. Greg Handler

    Today whilst recalling my childhood I came across a program for the debut of Eric Friedman at Carnegie Hall N.Y.C. Memory recalls he was about 12 at the time and I was 10. We were guests of Dr. & Mrs. Friedman, Eric’s proud parents. That was the first time I heard Eric play the violin in public and it made a lasting impression. Having known Eric personally, as well as his parents and elder brother, Stuart, words alone cannot express the sadness felt by Eric’s passing.

  24. David Mallery

    We heard Erick Friedman first around l960, even before,in the auditorium of Clearwater High School,
    Florida. The concert was advertised as by” a prize student of Heifetz.,…”It was a superb concert, electrifying. The peak of it was the Franck Sonata. We have never forgotten that evening.

  25. Hoang Dothe

    I had the opportunity of hearing Eric Friedman in concert a few years ago at the Newport Music Festival in RI. I was really looking forward to that concert because I have always been an admirer of Mr. Friedman’s unique violin playing through his recordings. And I was extremely happy that Mr. Friedman was on top form, playing a number of “violinistic” pieces characteristic of the golden age of violin playing, as well as the Tchaikovsky Piano Trio. His tone was beautiful, romantic and his technique brilliant, reminiscent of Heifetz’s. Mr. Friedman’s passing is a great loss for all violin music lovers. He represented a grand style of violin playing that sadly no longer exists. I feel priviledged to have had that chance to hear him live.

  26. Jan Hangland

    Sadly, I was never able to see Mr. Friedman play in person. In my early 20’s, I discovered an album of his that was made with the London Symphony Orchestra. It awakened my heart to violin music. I was not exposed to classical music as a young girl (I’m now 67), but spent many years investigating and learning all I could. Mr. Friedman’s violin technique reached straight to my heart and I still have that vinyl record and will cherish it always. I wish all of his works were available on CD.
    I envy those of you who knew him. What a gift!
    God bless his soul. It certainly was there in each piece of music he played.
    Jan Hangland,
    Seattle, WA

  27. Stephen Bentley-Klein

    I had the honour and great good fortune of studying with Erick Friedman for two years in the early 80’s.
    He was without doubt the most sgnificant and meaningful influence on me as a musician.I can still even now remember the burning inspiration he would leave me with after a lesson in New York.Sometimes I would walk back to my apartment dazed by his knowledge and the beauty of musical intention.
    He gave me a glimpse of hope that I might get my violinistic expression airborne whilst he was always soaring high in the sky.
    Stephen Bentley-Klein,

  28. Helmut Kerling

    I happened to pick up a copy of the Ozawa recording of the Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn Concertos. I bought the record because of the young Ozawa….but came away pleasantly stunned by the young Freidman!
    After listening to the record I had to look up some information on this musician. I am saddened that he has passed on. An absolutely brilliant master of the instrument.

  29. Rina

    I was stunned by the bad news of Erick Friedman’s passing away. I had the honor of meeting him in NYC in the early seventies. He was a young and brilliant violinist and a very unique man. I got to know him through my brother, the cellist – Michael Haran – who was in NYC at the time. Erick left a very big impression on me at the time, and only recently I saw one of his recordings, which brought me to look him up on the internet, not even thinking of a posibility that this very lively violinist can be…not alive…I now realize how privileged I was by meeting Mr. Friedman in person. I am lamenting the big loss of his passing away… a loss to his family and to the entire music world.
    Blessed be his memory.

  30. Eugene Trager, MD

    I met Eric when he was 16 years old through his brother Stuart. We both were third year medical students working our way through medical school as externs at Garfield Park Hospital in Chicago.
    I was shocked and sadened to discover his death while searching for him on the Web after listening for the umpthied time to his original recording of Paganini Concerto no. 1 in D on my old fashioned long play turntable. He was to play a concert in some small town in Wisconsin and I remember driving from Chicago with him and Stuart through a blinding snow storm with 8 inches on snow on the ground in a state of high anxiety. But Eric was unflapable and his performance awe inspiring. Many ears later, I was in Orchestra Hall in Chicago during his concert when his E string broke in the middle of Paganini and Eric transfered to the A string, calmly handed his violin to the concermaster during a brief rest, took the concermaster’s violin and didn’t miss a note as far as I could tell.

  31. Michael Lewin

    I first listened to Erick Friedman in starting 70s,while being a teenager.It was an RCA LP with Paganinini NO.1,and Saint Saens Rondo Capricioso.Music reached a new dimension for me!
    Some years later I had the big chance to be in a live Erick s concert in São Paulo,Brasil,when I spoked with him after the performance was held.
    I offenly listen to the referred LP.He is UNIQUE!
    Michael Lewin-Brasil

  32. Tom Barrister

    Whether Erik Friedman was Heifetz’s “best pupil” is a matter of interpretation. Heifetz often said that he was his favorite pupil.

  33. genie deutsch

    I met Erick through his mother when she was at an assisted living facility with my mother. He was a very devoted son. He came to visit her almost every day. His attention extended her life.
    I saw and heard him play in New Haven and will always remember the magnificent music he made with his fellow music school faculty members.

  34. grant goodge

    To whom it may concern: I was fortunate to have purchased a 33 LP in 1966 of Eric’s performance of the Paganini violin concerto #1. I have heard many other performances by other violinist and none come even close to his. Unfortunately for me an any others who like that recording, no complete recording of the Paganini #1 has yet to been remastered on to a CD. The last movement of the Paganini #1 has, along with his excellent interpretation of the Saint Saens Rhondo is on an RCA disk with other selections by Eric: I was just listening to his performance of the Tchaikovsky concerto and decided do do a Google search and was saddened to see by way of this blog that he had passed away 4 years ago. To his family and friends, I wish my deepest sympathies. His recordings have brought me many hours of great pleasure. Sincerely; Grant w. Goodge 1-09-2008

  35. Dennis Hollands

    When cleaning out some files left to me by my sister I came across a newspaper review from the Hamilton Spectator (Ontario , Canada) dated March 15, 1962, describing Mr Friedman’s performance of the previous evening. He must have been about 20 at the time. The report was so glowing that I had to check the internet for more information about this marvellous man. It was distressing to hear that he had passed away. I am an amateur violinist and still striving to produce a passable sound. I will search for his recordings.

  36. HELEN

    I don’t know what possessed me to google Erick’s name after so many years, yet nonetheless I did so. I am surprised and saddened to hear of his passing. I met Erick, in Mexico, through my best friend Julieta, who was dating him at the time. I beleive that it was in 1972 and it was in Puebla, Mexico, a two-hour drive from Mexico City.
    In fact, Julieta, also visited him in NYC. It was interesting watching my forever disorganized, excuse generating, always running late, yet stunningly beautiful, friend try to keep up with Erick who seemed to have very specifically contrary expectations of her. Sadly, it was a short-lived affair as he sounds like he was a lovlier man than she got to know. Oh well.

  37. Oriana Diaz

    I really think he was one of the most influent Violinist in the world. I hope God keeps him in his reing. Form heaven, give us your Knowledge, dear Maestro. Love.
    From Venezuela.

  38. Ann F.

    It’s been just over five years since my teacher, Mr. Friedman passed. Not a day goes where I don’t think of him. I never touch my violin without remembering his voice. He touched my life, and the lives of so many, so deeply with his warmth, intelligence, and integrity. He was a hero and I will never forget him.

  39. John

    It is so wonderful to see the many posts regarding Mr. Friedman from his many students and those who were influenced by him. I know the deep feelings one developes for our violin teachers. My violin teacher Dr. Paul Makara recently passed away and I think of him each day, not only for his great musical skill, but for the lessons he taught in life. He is also deeply missed.

  40. Robert Pearce

    Erick played under Don Voorhees with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra around 1970. I was president of the association at that time. After the concert he heard that I was flying my little 4 seat airplane to North Carolina the next day, and asked if he could come along.He was a little adventurous. We had a great time together and I gave him a flying lesson on the way.
    I am so sorry to read of his injury and passing. I can’t think
    of any visiting artist who thrilled us more, and such a nice person.
    I have a photo of Erick standing in front of my plane if some one would like a copy

  41. Jerry

    I was unaware that Erick had passed on, and I am very sad to learn about it.
    Erick was my violin teacher when I attended the Manhattan School of Music in the early 1980’s, and he was the most influential teacher, in any subject, that I have ever had. Erick’s consistent mantra of “play in tune, in time, and with a big sound” is unforgettable.
    During one lesson, when I had again played something wrongly for the 3rd week in a row, he said angrily, “Jerry, I’ve told you about that twice. You know when you’re going to listen to me…when you have to eat. When that violin has to put food on the table.” He then said to me, rather disinterestedly, “go on” with the piece.
    It reminded me of a story he had told about his studies with Heifetz. Erick said that if Heifetz did not think you were trying hard enough as a student, one day, at the end of your lesson, you would hear, “That’s very good. I’m not pleased with the progress you’ve been making. Don’t come back next week.” Erick said that he realized he was not working hard enough himself, and was afraid that he could be dropped by Heifetz. So, he sat in an unfurnished apartment for months perfecting his technique, until he got it right.
    I recognized in that moment in my lesson that Erick had just mentally dropped me, and I’d better get it right. I did the following week, and like a dam bursting, he then offered much more of himself about how to play that piece of music.
    Some people thought Erick was cold in his teaching manner, but in reality he was just very serious…and, rightly, he did not take seriously anyone who was not also serious. He told me once that when speaking with a New York City orchestra conductor, the conductor said that there were some Friedman students playing with the orchestra. Erick asked how the students were doing, and the conductor told Erick that they were all very good, but that they said “you never praise them.” Erick said, “That’s why they’re playing in your orchestra.”
    Erick just wanted you to play well. He didn’t care what your style was, or particularly how you chose to interpret the music, as long as you knew why you were playing it that way and did it convincingly; in tune, in time, and with a big sound. As he said, if the guy in the last row of the balcony could not hear you, he’d ask the ticket office for his money back.
    This is what he taught me. To ignore all the nonsense and, in his words, “cut through to the bone” of what’s important. First do the job right, then we’ll discuss everything else. And he was emphatic.
    That is the lesson I’ve carried with me ever since. And though I decided in later years not to pursue music as a career, that lesson stayed. It is the best lesson I ever learned, from the best teacher I ever had.

  42. Barli Nugent

    I was 11 years old when I first met Erick; he had just returned from Moscow and played in a house concert for personal friends of his in Norwalk, CT. I was a beginner flutist, but he could not have been more gracious and charming, to me and everyone else in that room. I met his parents in later gatherings — his mother so proud of him and yet she grew so nervous when he performed that she refused to be in the concert hall when he played, and his father who was a gregarious and more relaxed spirit. He later was a guest in my parents’ home, and took the trouble to send a wedding gift when I married, a gift I have to this day. I heard many of his concerts, and was in the orchestra for one when he played the Brahms Concerto with the Norwalk Youth Symphony, an organization he later supported through a fund-raiser in a program that also included the jazz great Dave Brubeck. I remember recitals he later played in Tully Hall, in particular one where he was presenting the music of the relatively-unknown Alexander Tcherepnin. I am now the assistant dean at Juilliard, where I work to fertilize the growth and learning of our students and faculty, and he is not far from my thoughts. Erick was such an extraordinarily gifted artist and genuinely kind and compelling human being. I am deeply saddened to learn that we have lost this wonderful man and artist.

  43. BETTY Kaufmann Ramsey

    I remember Eric in L.A.from the late 50’s . He was taking lessons from Maestro Heifetz. I had dated his brother Stuart while he was in Chicago and he asked Eric to come and say “Hello” to my roommate and I . He was very pleasant and gave us tickets to a concert where he would be performing. He seemed a very intent young man and music was his life .I never thought he would ever marry .
    It is remarkable that he had the tenacity to go on teaching after his injuries. It is humbling to think how many lives were impacted by his incredible talent

  44. keranic

    The “violin showpieces” enlightened me, really, even the “me” refers to someone from the faraway eastern Country: China.
    Everyone dies, but only some were remembered. Mr. Friedman, you are one of them.

  45. michal peleg

    Hi Brian,
    Your father recorded once in Israel in Kolinor studios. I was there during the recording, listening to his wonderful play. Maybe you have the record? Sorry for your loss!! Michal

  46. AAR

    RCA should reissue his great recordings esp., the Sibelius Violin Concerto and perhaps his great, if not the greatest, rendition of the Paganini Violin Concerto No. 1. My LP is worn out unlike my memory and licking of it. Weneed the remastered CD NOW!!!

  47. robert_ hershkowitz

    I heard and met Erik Freidman about 30 years ago in my hometown of palo alto calif. he playied the Brahms concerto . he playioed so beautifully. and on his magnificent strad. I was with my dad he was spellbound. we went backstage to meet him unfortunately he seemed like he was in a bad mood . never the less it was an unforgettable experience.

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