Born: August 25, 1915; Munich, Germany
Died: September 27, 1997; Nova Scotia, Canada
Walter Trampler was a fixture in the viola world for very nearly three-quarters of a century, serving that rich but often underappreciated kingdom both as a soloist of the top rank and as a teacher. Trampler was born in Munich in 1915 and lived in Germany for the first 24 years of his life; but, like so many of his countrymen, he emigrated to the United States in 1939 when he could simply no longer bear the domestic pressure cooker that wasRead more Germany at that time.
Trampler's first music lessons were provided by his violinist father, and his earliest significant public appearance was made not playing the viola, but rather its higher-strung sister instrument in a 1933 performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto. Meanwhile he had taken to the viola as a parallel means of musical expression: he played that instrument in the German Radio Orchestra from the mid-1930s until the time of his emigration (he was in fact the principal violist), and also played it in the now-forgotten Strub Quartet. Trampler's activities during the first few years of his American residency were many and varied. He served with the American Army during World War II; he taught at Mills College in California for a short time; he played violin in the Boston Symphony Orchestra for a time (1942-1944); he served as principal violist of the New York City Opera Orchestra, and then in 1947 he founded the New Music String Quartet -- a godsend ensemble to contemporary composers up until its dissolution in the late 1950s -- and played viola in it. The attention this brought him led to an appointment, in 1962, to the faculty of the Juilliard School. He would go on to teach also at the New England Conservatory, the Boston University School of the Arts, and Yale University. He was, in addition, a founding member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Trampler's elegant, sonorous viola playing was well suited both to the standard repertoire, of which he recorded a great deal, and new music; a number of prominent twentieth century composers, including Luciano Berio and Hans Werner Henze, fashioned works specifically for him. He also devoted a portion of his skill and time to the viola d'amore and its representative works. Read less