Robert Murray (1936-2020)

Robert Murray, the violinist and longtime teacher at Virginia Commonwealth University, has died at 83.

A native of South Bend, IN, who grew up in Janesville, WI, Murray was a US Navy veteran and a graduate of the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago and Indiana University. Among his teachers were Rudolf Kolisch and Tadeusz Wronski.

He played in the Orlando and Nashville symphonies – during the latter stint, doubling as a recording studio musician – as well as the Chicago Chamber Orchestra and Amici della Musica Chamber Orchestra and Bach Festival Orchestra in California, before joining the VCU music faculty in 1978. He also had taught at the University of Northern Colorado, Baylor University and the Red Lodge Music Festival in Montana.

Murray made his New York debut at Town Hall in 1975. At VCU, he was a member of the Smetana Trio, one of modern Richmond’s pioneering chamber-music ensembles, with pianist Landon Bilyeu and cellist Frantisek Smetana, and performed with Ardyth Lohuis in a violin-and-organ duo, one of the few of its kind. He was an occasional substitute player in the Richmond Symphony.

He was a recording engineer and producer, and made a number of recordings for Raven, Musical Heritage Society and other labels. Among them were Telemann’s 12 fantasias for solo violin, the violin sonatas of Saint-Saëns, the first recordings of Anton Rubinstein’s four violin sonatas, the Fifth Violin Sonata of Leo Sowerby (which Murray had premiered) and a series of discs of violin-and-organ works with Lohuis.

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