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Curtis Mourns the Loss of Orlando Cole

The Curtis Institute of Music mourns the loss of beloved emeritus faculty member Orlando Cole, who passed away this morning at age 101.

"Landy" was a benevolent and irreplaceable force at Curtis, an unparalleled figure in musical history, and a renowned cellist. Among the students who entered the Curtis Institute of Music on the day its doors first opened in 1924, Mr. Cole had a profound impact on music in the twentieth century both as the cellist of the Curtis String Quartet and as a teacher at Curtis for over fifty years. His former students can be found throughout the world in major orchestras, chamber ensembles, and on the recital stage. We will miss him deeply and extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and former students.

Photo: Past and present students of Orlando Cole (center) gathered for his hundredth birthday celebration in the fall of 2008.

He entered Curtis at the age of sixteen and studied with famed cellist Felix Salmond. He also majored in chamber music and graduated in 1934. As a member of the Curtis String Quartet, which formed during his student years, Mr. Cole toured extensively, traveling to New York, Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., where the quartet performed for President and Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1934. One year later the Curtis String Quartet toured Europe, the first American-trained chamber group to do so, and recorded Samuel Barber's Dover Beach for string quartet and voice, with the composer as soloist.

In 1942, during a brief gap in his tenure at Curtis, Mr. Cole established the New School of Music with the members of the Curtis Quartet. He taught there for many years until it merged with Temple University in 1986. He rejoined the Curtis faculty in 1953. From then until 2005 he taught two generations of soloists and principal cellos in leading orchestras, including Owen Carman, David Cole, Lynn Harrell, Thomas Kraines, Daniel Lee, Ronald Leonard, Lorne Munroe, Marcy Rosen, and Metta Watts. Mr. Cole has held master classes all over the world and, in collaboration with his former student Lynn Harrell, produced two highly acclaimed videotapes entitled Exploring the Bow-Arm.

Mr. Cole received an honorary doctorate from Curtis in 1986, and the American String Teachers Association named him Teacher of the Year in 1990. In 2000 Curtis honored him with its first-ever Alumni Award. He was named to the emeritus faculty in 2005. Orlando Cole celebrated his 101st birthday on August 16.

His joy in teaching and making music was best expressed by Landy himself in a 2004 Overtones article: "Teaching for more than seventy-five years has given me cause to feel that my life has been well spent. If I were granted a second 'go-around,' I would want to continue sharing my love of music and the cello with students and audiences. No other choice could be better than doing it all over again."

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(215) 717-3190

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