“Michael Tree, a viola player whose lyrical, deeply expressive playing style helped make the Guarneri Quartet one of the world’s preeminent chamber groups, and whose rambunctious personality and diplomatic approach were key to the ensemble’s unrivaled longevity, died March 30 at his home in Manhattan,” writes Harrison Smith in Sunday’s (4/1) Washington Post. “He was 84. He had Parkinson’s disease, said his wife, Jani Kreck. Mr. Tree was a violin prodigy before he turned to the viola…. The ensemble formed in 1964 and performed almost nonstop until disbanding in 2009…. With the Guarneri, Mr. Tree played alongside violinists [Arnold] Steinhardt and John Dalley … and cellist David Soyer…. Peter Wiley stepped in after Soyer’s retirement in 2001…. Michael Applebaum was born in Newark on Feb. 19, 1934. He began using the last name Tree at the insistence of Efrem Zimbalist, the patrician violinist and longtime director at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, which Mr. Tree entered at the young age of 12.… ‘Michael set a new standard for the viola,’ Steinhardt said. ‘Now orchestras are not filled with failed violinists playing the viola, but with sensational violists,’ performers whom Mr. Tree encouraged to treat the viola as an integral part of an ensemble.”

Posted April 2, 2018