>From the New York Times
June 28, 2005
Isidore Cohen, 82, Violinist in Premier Chamber Groups, Is Dead
By ALLAN KOZINN
Isidore Cohen, a violinist who, as a member of the Juilliard
String Quartet and the Beaux Arts Trio, was an important chamber
music performer and a teacher, died on Thursday in the Bronx.
He was 82 and lived in Manhattan.
Mr. Cohen's death was announced by Frank Salomon, an administrator
of the Marlboro Music School and Festival, the summer program
in Marlboro, Vt., where Mr. Cohen taught for nearly 40 years.
A genial, energetic musician whose interests ranged from Haydn
to Elliott Carter, Mr. Cohen can be heard on dozens of classic
recordings by the Beaux Arts Trio, including the complete Haydn
and Beethoven Piano Trios and works by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff,
Ives and Shostakovich.
As the ensemble's violinist, he held a pivotal position, physically
as well as musically. Early in Mr. Cohen's tenure with the group,
the players decided that for acoustical reasons, the cellist -
then Bernard Greenhouse - should face the audience directly.
That meant that Mr. Greenhouse could not make eye contact with
Menahem Pressler, the group's pianist. In what became a Beaux
Arts visual quirk, Mr. Pressler regularly glanced over his
shoulder at Mr. Cohen who, because he had eye contact with both
of the other players, became a relay between them.
Mr. Cohen was born in Brooklyn on Dec. 16, 1922. He began studying
the violin at 6 and continued his studies at Music and Art High
School in Manhattan, from which he graduated in 1940. At the
time, however, he had not decided to seek a musical career, and
enrolled at Brooklyn College as a pre-med student. His studies
were interrupted in 1943, when he joined the United States Army
and fought in Europe. During his three years in the service, Mr.
Cohen performed in the Army's symphony orchestra and in jazz
When he returned to the United States, Mr. Cohen became a student
of Ivan Galamian at the Juilliard School, and began a career
as a freelance violinist. Starting in the early 1950's, he was
concertmaster of the resident orchestras at the festivals directed
by the cellist and conductor Pablo Casals, in Prades, France,
and in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was later the concertmaster of
several New York ensembles, including the Little Orchestra Society
and, for several of its early seasons, the Mostly Mozart Orchestra.
At the Casals festivals, Mr. Cohen met the violinist Alexander
Schneider, who invited him to join the Schneider String Quartet
as second violinist, in 1952. Among the Schneider Quartet's
accomplishments was a traversal, both in concert and on recordings,
of the complete Haydn quartets. In 1958, Mr. Cohen joined the
Juilliard String Quartet, also as second violinist. He performed
with the group for a decade.
When the Beaux Arts Trio's original violinist, Daniel Guilet,
retired in 1968, Mr. Pressler and Mr. Greenhouse invited Mr.
Cohen to take his place. Mr. Cohen was reluctant at first.
"It seemed to me that the best thing to do would be to work
together for a week or so and see how it went," he said in a
1979 interview. "But they said, 'no, either you want to join or
you don't.' I knew their playing, they knew mine, and it was two
against one, so I joined."
By the mid-1970's, the Beaux Arts had become the world's most
prominent piano trio and was touring and recording plentifully.
Mr. Cohen remained a member until his retirement in 1992.
During his years in the Juilliard and Beaux Arts groups, Mr.
Cohen also taught, and was at various times a member of the
faculties at the Aspen Festival, the Curtis Institute of Music
in Philadelphia, the Juilliard School, Princeton University, the
State University of New York at Stony Brook, and the Manhattan
School of Music. His most long-standing association, though, was
with Marlboro, where he began teaching in 1966. He regularly
toured as part of Musicians from Marlboro, a flexible ensemble
that included both faculty and student performers.
He is survived by a daughter, Erica Cohen of Tepoztlan, Mexico,
and a son, Allen Cohen, of New York City, Marlboro and Madrid.
* Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company