Obituary: Leonard M. Friedman

Leonard Matthew Friedman, violinist: born London 11 December 1930; twice married (two sons, three daughters); died Edinburgh 11 May 1994.

LEONARD FRIEDMAN, the violinist and founder of the Scottish Baroque Ensemble, was a brilliant performer and one of the great musical eccentrics.

Friedman was born in London of Lithuanian parents. He studied with Max Rostal, teacher of so many of today's leading string players, at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in London, and played with, and eventually became the leader of, a number of symphony orchestras in London and elsewhere (including a period as co-leader of the Royal Philharmonic under Sir Thomas Beecham) and with the London Chamber Orchestra. He moved to Scotland in 1966 and became leader of the Scottish Symphony Orchestra, a soloist and a well-known figure in the Scottish arts scene during the Sixties, although frequently playing elsewhere. The legends about Friedman were numerous. He had a habit of double- booking himself, so that quite frequently he would play on the same evening in different halls, and if he got his timing wrong the audience simply had to wait.

On one occasion he was leading an orchestra in Edinburgh and, looking at his watch, realised that the last train to London, where he had an important recording date the next morning, would shortly be leaving. He stopped playing, hastily packed up his violin and left the platform under the astonished eyes of conductor, audience and fellow players.

In 1969 I invited Friedman to help me found a new orchestra of Scottish-based musicians to play for the two operas given annually at Ledlanet, in Kinross-shire, and he created the Scottish Baroque Ensemble, later to become the core of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The SBE also performed four concerts a year at Ledlanet. One of them occurred on Friedman's birthday, which he shared with Beethoven. Audiences were quite accustomed, when Friedman was in charge, to hearing a quite different programme played from the one that had been announced, but in this concert they were given seven concerti for seven different soloists in addition to symphonies and other works.

The concert, although much appreciated, in spite of its inordinate length, and brilliantly played, cost more than double the budget. Friedman's explanation was 'It's my birthday.'

For the last few years he gave master-classes with leading young professionals, at a 'Mendelssohn on Mull' festival at Eastertime. In the last year his violin has been heard in the most recent series of Sherlock Holmes radio plays on BBC. He was always game for a new challenge and full of promotional ideas for musical activities.

In spite of his exasperating inability to bring any order or discipline to his life and career, Friedman was much loved. He was a catalyst and a risk-taker. Music was his very existence and he would sometimes join the rank and file during the second half of a concert where he had been the soloist in the first half, just for the joy of playing. He was able to instil music into others so that even amateurs and mediocre players would feel they were taken over and able to excel themselves when playing with him.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map