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    Vardi, Emanuel (12 April 1915 – Present)

    Violist from Jerusalem who began studying piano and violin at three years of age, but gravitated toward the latter when he was seven and had performed the “Fantasy in D minor” of Mozart by the age of nine.


    He applied for Julliard but was too young and wound up going to the Institute of Musical Art instead, where his teacher was Constance Seeger, mother of Pete.  She encouraged him to enroll into Walden School, which he did for a short time, then dropped out.  He spent about a year off and then returned to school when he was old enough to attend Julliard. 


    He had an epiphany when he heard William Primrose, the renowned violist, performing a pair of caprices by Nicolo Paganini.  It captured his imagination and he immediately set to work transcribing all twenty-four caprices for the viola.  Primose, who was first viola with the NBC Symphony Orchestra, passed his name along to Arturo Toscanini, and he offered him an audition.  After only playing a couple of notes, Emanuel was hired.


    During his tour of duty in World War II, Emanuel pursued another one of his passions:  Art.  It was something he had always dabbled in but it took a back seat to his music.  In Italy, he had a chance to study some of the masters.  Music, however, always came first.  If it hadn’t, he might not have recorded his version of the 24 Caprices and established himself as a valuable session musician in the 1960s.  Not only was he adept at classical music:  He was equally at home as part of the string section on Louis Armstong and His Friends or The Other Side of Abbey Road by George Benson.


    By the 1970s, he was in demand in the recording studio, laying down tracks for the likes of Hank Crawford, Deodato, Faith, Hope & Charity, Maynard Ferguson, Bob James, Van McCoy, Idris Muhammad, Jaco Pastorius, Esther Phillips, Lalo Schifrin, Don Sebesky, Nina Simone, Stanley Turrentine, and Grover Washington, Jr.   He even recorded with The Muppets on Big Bird’s Birdtime Stories.  One of his later recordings is Forever, For Always, For Love, by Luther Vandross.


    In 1993, he injured his wrist when he tripped at a construction site, and had to wear a cast.  Another unfortunate spill on snow-covered ice ended up with him tearing his rotator cuff.  His music career was over.


    Thankfully for Emanuel, he could still paint.  The devastation of losing one huge part of his life was somewhat cushioned by the opportunity to devote himself solely to his art, an opportunity he may never have had otherwise.  He is no dilettante, either.  His paintings have won prizes, been critically acclaimed, and even, in some cases, been commissioned. 


    One of his specialties is painting musicians.  He paints in a cubist style like Picasso and portrays the musicians as they might look in various stages of performing.  In this final stage of his career, Emanuel can be found wielding a paintbrush instead of a viola, literally adding color to music.


    Van McCoy recordings

    The Shuffle (Van McCoy)

    That’s the Joint (Richard Harris/Van McCoy)



    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanuel_Vardi
    2. http://www.vardiart.com/about.html
    3. http://www.theviolincase.com/734.shtml











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