/ News / Curtis Mourns the Loss of Michael Tree, Viola Faculty Member and Guarneri Founding Member

Curtis Mourns the Loss of Michael Tree, Viola Faculty Member and Guarneri Founding Member

Michael Tree (Violin ’55) passed away on Friday, March 30.

Michael TreeCurtis mourns the loss of Michael Tree (Violin ’55) who passed away on Friday, March 30. A member of our viola faculty for 50 years and a founding member of the Guarneri Quartet, Mr. Tree was a mentor and inspiration to generations of Curtis violists. He carried on the Curtis string legacy he inherited from his Curtis teachers Efrem Zimbalist, Lea Luboshutz, and Veda Reynolds. 

“He was one of the original quartet superstar violists,” remembers President Roberto Díaz. “Through his playing he raised the bar and through his teaching he left a legacy—some of the greatest young string quartet violists and orchestra principals are Michael Tree students. We will remember him for his humanity, his wit, and his incredible commitment to music, the quartet, and Curtis.” We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends, colleagues, and students of Mr. Tree.

An accomplished soloist, Mr. Tree made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1954 and has subsequently appeared as both violinist and violist with many major orchestras. He participated in leading festivals, including Casals, Spoleto, Israel, Santa Fe, Tanglewood, Aspen, and Marlboro. It was at Marlboro that the Guarneri Quartet was formed in the late 1950s by Mr. Tree, cellist David Soyer, and two other violinists, John Dalley (Violin ’57) and Arnold Steinhardt (Violin ’59). Mr. Tree volunteered to play viola, cementing the course of his career.

With the Guarneri String Quartet, Mr. Tree performed on virtually every concert series throughout the world and was awarded the New York City Seal of Recognition. He recorded more than 80 chamber music works for the Columbia, RCA, Philips, Arabesque, Nonesuch, and Vanguard labels. In addition, Mr. Tree was a member of the string trio Divertimento and, as violinist, of the Fleisher, Jolley, TreeO.

Also a dedicated pedagogue, Mr. Tree served on the faculties of the University of Maryland, Manhattan School of Music, Juilliard School, and Bard College Conservatory of Music in addition to his decades of teaching at Curtis.

Find a full obituary from the Philadelphia Inquirer here.