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)

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

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines