The SYMPHONIA QUARTET existed for a dozen years primarily for the purpose of presenting chamber music programs in the schools of northern Ohio. It was formed in 1953 at the request of GEORGE SZELL, music director of the CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA, on behalf of Mrs. Rosalie Leventritt, chairperson of Young Audiences, Inc., of New York. Young Audiences joined the CLEVELAND CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY in providing the ensemble's principal support. It was comprised originally of Cleveland Orchestra members Kurt Loebel (1st violin), Elmer Setzer (2nd violin), Tom Brennand (viola), and Thomas Liberti (cello). Brennand was later succeeded by John Cox, and Liberti by Jorge Sicre.
Besides performing the classic quartet repertoire in public, parochial, and private schools in the Greater Cleveland and Akron area, the group also gave concerts at local libraries, the CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF MUSIC, and Fenn College (see CLEVELAND STATE UNIV.). In the early 1960s the Symphonia presented the U.S. premiere of Glenn Gould's string quartet in the Reinberger Chamber Hall of SEVERANCE HALL. It was witnessed by the composer, who subsequently invited the quartet to appear with him in a televised performance in Toronto of the Shostakovich Piano Quintet. The ensemble disbanded in 1966, after differences over funding led to the termination of its partnership with the Chamber Music Society.