About Walter Levin
This Jewish violinist was fortunate to have been able to emigrate from Germany to a part of the world temporarily known as Palestine in 1938. Levin's contemporary, the violinist Henry Meyer, would not be so lucky and spent years of his life at hard labor in a series of concentration camps. The two men were born only a year apart from each other, in different parts of Germany. They would eventually become founders of the La Salle String Quartet, a highly praised and prolific chamber group that began as a student ensemble in the late '40s. In 1946 Levin began studying music and violin at the Juilliard School in New York with Ivan Galamian, which is where he came into contact with Meyer. The two violinists formed the La Salle group in 1949 with violist Peter Kamnitzer and cellist Lee Fiser. The group began a residency at the College Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati in 1953 and remained based out of this institution through 1989, departing regularly for concert tours throughout the world.
The La Salle Quartet created superior recordings of works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, and Zemlinsky as well as many contemporary works. The box set of the complete chamber music of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern could keep the serious fan of the Viennese school busy for a season or two. The inventive and innovative György Ligeti created a string quartet specifically for La Salle, and the group also recorded works by John Cage, Luigi Nono, Michael Gielen, Mauricio Kagel, and Witold Lutoslawski.
In 1987 the quartet terminated all its concert activity, and since that time Levin has been even more active as a teacher. Specializing in chamber music, he has trained a long list of developing string quartets, leads chamber music courses at the colleges of music in Luebeck, Basel, Paris, and at the International Summer Academy Mozarteum in Salzburg, gives combination lecture/recitals as a guest with a variety of chamber groups and played a serious role in the educating of a long list of classical instrumentalists. He also performs as a soloist with orchestras such as the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie. Levin is also quite active in academic research, and has published essays about aspects of interpretation, as well as documenting the generation of Jewish and other exiled musicians who came to America from Europe following World War II.