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
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas