Remembering Roman Totenberg

Remembering Roman Totenberg featured image

Violinist and teacher Roman Totenberg died on Tuesday at the age of 101. Over the past few weeks, Totenberg and his family have experienced an outpouring of support from former students. Totenberg, who never retired continued to teach on his death bed.

A short excerpt from his obituary:

Roman Totenberg was born on Jan 1, 1911, in Lodz, Poland. He studied in Berlin with Carl Flesch and in Paris with Georges Enesco and Pierre Monteux, and won the Mendelssohn Prize in Berlin and the Wienawski and Ysaye Medals of Poland and Belgium. In 1935, he made his U.S. debut with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.

Totenberg’s daughter Nina remembers her father and recounts his last days in a post on NPR’s website:

His death was as remarkable as his life. He made his debut as a soloist with the Warsaw Philharmonic at age 11, performed his last concert when he was in his mid-90s, and was still teaching, literally, on his deathbed. This week, as word flew around the musical world that he was in renal failure, former students flocked to his home in Newton, Mass., to see the beloved “maestro.”

Mainly, he wanted to hear them play, and several of the sessions turned into long lessons, with my father, eyes closed, conducting with one hand to keep the tempo, slowing the phrasing here and there, and at one point, asking Daniel Han, now a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra, to hand over his violin so my dad could show him some fingering.

Nina Totenberg

[Read the entire story and obituary on]



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