Monday, December 22, 2014
THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Laszlo Varga, a Hungarian-born musician and teacher who escaped a Nazi work camp to become principal cellist for the New York Philharmonic under the batons of Dimitri Mitropoulos and Leonard Bernstein, died on December 11 at his home in Sarasota, Florida. He was 89. In a long career, Mr. Varga applied his virtuosic skills to solo performances, orchestral playing and ensemble work. As a young man he lost his position as first-chair cellist of the Budapest Symphony in a purge of Jews. He came to the U.S. after World War II as a member of the celebrated Lener Quartet. In 1948 he joined the New York City Opera orchestra. He resigned from the New York Philharmonic in 1962 to play with the Canadian String Quartet and to teach at University of Toronto Conservatory of Music. For many years he taught cello and chamber music and conducted the orchestra at San Francisco State, where one of his students was Kent Nagano, now conductor of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.