Michael Tree, longtime violist of the Guarneri String Quartet, has died at 84. Born Michael Applebaum, the son of a violin teacher at the Manhattan School of Music, Tree changed his surname at the behest of Efram Zimbalist, his principal teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music.
Tree began attending the Marlboro Music Festival in 1959; he founded the Guarneri with violinists Arnold Steinhardt and John Dalley and cellist David Soyer at Marlboro in 1964. The ensemble, known for its unusually rich collective tone, was one of the leading US string quartets until it disbanded in 2009.
An obituary by The Washington Post’s Harrison Smith: