In Memoriam Vladimir Mendelssohn (1949-2021)

Vladimir Mendelssohn (Image credit: Wikimedia*)

It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of violist, pedagogue and composer Vladimir Mendelssohn. Through his performances as a chamber musician across the world and his tireless dedication to teaching at the conservatories in Paris, Essen, Rotterdam and The Hague he made his mark on the broader musical landscape. As a young conservatoire student I was lucky enough to have been one of his students and later to have had opportunities to perform with him in concert. Those of us that knew Vladimir will always remember both his endearing warmth and his uncanny sense of humour. As a pedagogue he seemed to always find exactly the right words to fit any situation. Early on in my studies he told me “you must learn not to keep hitting your head against the wall. As a musician you will be faced with many obstacles and the key to thriving is learning how to go around, over or under them.” After 15 years I have found these words to ring truer than ever. Similarly, he approached chamber music rehearsals with great tact and was able to navigate the difficulties arising therein with ease. During one rehearsal of Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence he turned to the cellists and said deadpan “perhaps this section could sound a little less like a song of the submariners of the navy of Severomorsk.” As a colleague and as a teacher Vladimir was able to help others overcome literally any obstacle they faced. As a performer, the warmth of his tone and the spontaneity of his performances will never be forgotten by those of us who heard him in concert.

Emlyn Stam

*) Image credits: By crop of File:Quatuor_Enesco.JPG, CC BY-SA 3.0,