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Eudice Shapiro, 93; violinist who made history in Hollywood

September 25, 2007|Chris Pasles | Times Staff Writer

Eudice Shapiro, a violinist, chamber musician, recording artist and USC faculty member since 1956, died of natural causes Sept. 17 at her home in Studio City. She was 93 and had been teaching at the USC Thornton School as recently as May, said a spokeswoman for the school.

Shapiro was born in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1914. She began studying violin with her father when she was 5, won her first prize when she was 10 and began her solo career with the Buffalo Philharmonic when she was 12.

She studied with Gustave Tinlot at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., and with Efrem Zimbalist at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

She moved to Los Angeles in 1941 to begin a 23-year career playing in Hollywood studios for Paramount, United Artists and RKO. She was the first female concertmaster in any studio orchestra, beginning at RKO, and by March 1943 was concurrently con- certmaster at Paramount.

She also began playing for the adventurous Evenings on the Roof series, the predecessor of the Monday Evening Concert series, in 1943 as a member of the newly formed American Art Quartet, which included violinist Robert Sushel, violist Virginia Majewski and Shapiro's first husband, cellist Victor Gottlieb, who died in 1963. On both series and at the Ojai Music Festival, she premiered works by Aaron Copland, Ingolf Dahl, Lou Harrison, Darius Milhaud and Igor Stravinsky, who became a friend until his death in 1971.

Shapiro appeared as a soloist under conductors Eugene Goossens, Fritz Reiner and William Steinberg and played in chamber ensembles that included Artur Schnabel, Bruno Walter, Lili Kraus, Rudolf Firkusny and Milhaud.

Her USC colleagues included cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, violist William Primrose and violinists Jascha Heifetz and Midori Goto. She also taught for 17 years at summer music festivals in Aspen, Colo.; Flagstaff, Ariz.; and Manchester, Vt.

Shapiro recorded for Columbia Masterworks, Crystal Records, Vanguard and New World. In November, Crystal Records reissued her recording of works by Stravinsky and Lukas Foss with the American Art Quartet and pianist Brooks Smith.

Shapiro's second husband, violinist George Kast, died in 1987.

She is survived by a son, Larry Gottlieb of Carbondale, Colo., and a brother, Heschel Shapiro, of Sherman Oaks. The funeral will be private. Instead of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Eudice Shapiro Endowed Violin Scholarship at the USC Thornton School of Music.

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chris.pasles@latimes.com

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