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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND STRING QUARTET

CLEVELAND STRING QUARTET

The CLEVELAND STRING QUARTET was a chamber music group attached to the CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA in the 1920s and 1930s and composed of principal players from the orchestra's string section. Formed in 1919, a year after the birth of the Cleveland Orchestra, it was organized largely through the efforts of the orchestra's first conductor, NIKOLAI SOKOLOFF, in order to provide Cleveland with a first-rate chamber music ensemble. Sokoloff relinquished leadership of the quartet to concertmaster Louis Edlin in 1922. Its personnel changed several times during the 1920s, eventually solidifying in the 1930s with Josef Fuchs, 1st violin; RUDOLPH RINGWALL, 2nd violin; Carlton Cooley, viola; and Victor de Gomez (the only original member), cello. The CLEVELAND MUSICAL ARTS ASSN. sponsored the quartet throughout its existence. Billed later as the Cleveland Quartet, it had its most successful years under Fuchs, who joined the group in 1926. Over the next 7 years it presented concerts in London, New York, Washington, and 27 other American cities. With the opening of the Severance Chamber Music Hall in 1931, the quartet began a more regular schedule of concerts and recitals. In a memorable series of 7 concerts from 20 May-2 June 1935, it performed the complete string quartets of Beethoven. Other local activities included the launching, in 1934, of a commercial series over WHK radio. In 1939 the quartet was reorganized, with Fuchs as the only continuing member. Attendance at its concerts began to drop, and the quartet disbanded in 1941, soon after the departure of Fuchs.


Cleveland Musical Arts Assn. Archives.

Shepherd, Arthur. "The String Quartets of Ludwig van Beethoven" (program annotations, The Cleveland Quartet, May 20, 22, 25, 27, 29, 31, June 2, 1935).