Sunday, December 22, 2013

Angel Reyes

Angel Reyes was a Cuban violinist and teacher born on February 14, 1919.  There is little information about him readily available and this blog post is one I had very little time to write so I will conduct further research and expand it later in the week.  His first teacher was Juan Torroella in Cuba and he made his first public appearance at age 12. Reyes then studied in Europe at the Paris Conservatory from which most sources say he graduated at age 16.  His main teacher there was Firmin Touche (1875-1957), concertmaster of the Paris Opera as well as the Edouard Colonne Orchestra.  Touche also had his own quite successful string quartet - the Firmin Touche Quartet.  Reyes had a brief concertizing career before settling down to a teaching career at the University of Texas (1947 to 1955), Northwestern University  (1955 to 1965), and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), from which he retired in 1985. He was appointed Chairman of the String Department at Michigan in December of 1977.  Reyes was also first violinist with the quartet-in-residence at the University of Texas.  The quartet probably had a name but I do not yet know what it was.  He made his U.S. orchestral debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra on January 7, 1944.  Eugene Ormandy conducted that concert and Reyes played the Brahms concerto on that occasion.  He again appeared with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra on April 16, 1948, playing Karol Szymanowski's second concerto.  Reyes first performed with the New York Philharmonic on March 23, 1946, playing the Mendelssohn concerto at Carnegie Hall with Artur Rodzinski on the podium.  The performance was recorded and the recording is still available from the Richard Rodzinski collection. On June 6, 1946, he again played with the Philharmonic - he performed the first movement of Lalo's Symphonie Espagnol at a pops concert on which a variety of works (and several artists) were on the program.  He was 27 years old.  He later soloed with the Havana Philharmonic (pre-Fidel Castro days, of course) and many other orchestras in Europe, Canada, and Latin America many times.  He played, among other violins, the Lipinski Stradivarius (1715) and the Kreisler (Carlo) Bergonzi violins.  It has been said that the Lipinski Strad was first owned by none other than Giuseppe Tartini.  It is now played (and has been for a while) by Frank Almond, concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony.  Among Reyes' many students are Barbara Barber, Tyrone Greive, Joseph Sylvan, Laura Hammes Black, Michael Goldman, and Marilyn McDonald.  Reyes died on November 17, 1988, at age 69. 


  1. The Lipinski Strad was taken (by force) from Frank Almond by a thief on the night of January 27, 2014, late at night, after he was leaving a concert performance near Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

  2. The stolen Lipinski Strad was recovered on or about February 5, 2014 by the FBI and the Milwaukee police.

  3. The name of the quartet-in-residence at the University of Texas (led by Reyes from 1947 to 1955) still eludes me.

  4. The quartet of which he was a part at Northwestern U. was the Sheridan String Quartet. I would like to find any recordings they made.

    1. Thank you for your comment and for sharing this information. I have tried to find out what his quartet at the University of Texas (at Austin) was called but nobody seems to know.

  5. As of today, this post has been viewed 4067 times. I think that is pretty good.