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Professor of Violoncello Andor Toth, Jr., Dies

by Marci Janas '91



Andor Toth Jr. Faculty Page



Cellist Andor Toth, Jr., of whom the San Francisco Examiner said, "you have to talk about him in terms of the highest virtuoso standards ...I have never in a quarter century of going to chamber concerts ever heard cello playing that moved me more," died on Tuesday, September 24, following a long illness. He was 54 years old.

Toth was professor of violoncello and chamber music at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he taught for 30 years. A student of George Neikrug at Oberlin from 1965 to 1967, he credited Neikrug in a 1998 Fanfare interview for breaking him of bad playing habits he had acquired: "He put me back together in a way that worked... A teacher who knows something about it can help almost every one get over it; in my 25 years here at Oberlin, I've never had a student leave with a physical problem."

As for interpretation, Toth told James Reel, his Fanfare interviewer, that his influences emanated from the Central European traditions of the Hungarian Quartet, cellist Gábor Rejto, (father of Oberlin Professor of Violoncello Peter Rejto), with whom Toth also studied and - of course - his own father.

Toth is the son of the violinist Andor Toth, Sr. In 1972, upon joining Oberlin's faculty, he and his father, together with violinist Richard Young and violist Denes Koromzay, formed the New Hungarian Quartet in residence at Oberlin. His mother, the soprano Louise Rose, also joined the Oberlin faculty that year as a voice teacher. Toth senior has also taught at Oberlin.

"The Hungarian school and the Berlin school are where I'm coming from," Toth told Reel. "And that would be a dry, classical thing, not this big, lush sound you get from most players these days. What I'm interested in you can hear if you listen to the old recordings of Beethoven with the Busch Quartet - it's all short and dry and accented. In that school the music came from clarity of structure, and intellectual ideas were more paramount. The French school, on the other hand, would do anything to avoid an ugly sound. So the intellectual ideas come from the Hungarian side, and the sounds, I guess, come from the Viennese side."

In 1982, Toth formed the Oberlin Trio with Emeritus Professor of Pianoforte Joseph Schwartz and former violin faculty member Stephen Clapp.

Prior to joining Oberlin's faculty Toth taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He was a soloist with the Joffrey Ballet and the Houston Symphony; when he joined the San Francisco Symphony, at the age of 20, in 1968, he was their youngest member. He served frequently as an adjudicator for international competitions, including, in 1998, the 11th Tchaikovsky Competition.

Plans are being developed for a concert to celebrate Toth's memory. As soon as more information becomes available it will be posted on the Conservatory's web site.

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