Life Member. Violin
6/17/1947 – 7/11/2019
by the LA Philharmonic Association
Jerry Epstein, former violist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, passed away on July 11, 2019, surrounded by his loving family.
Epstein, a native Angeleno, joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra as a violist in 1968 during his junior year at the University of Southern California, and remained with the LA Phil for 43 seasons until his retirement. He graduated from USC with his Bachelors in Music (magna cum laude) and later his Master of Music. Epstein came from a long line of talented musicians, including his uncle, father, and mother, Los Angeles Philharmonic alumna Lily Matison Mahler Epstein.
Epstein was the principal violist in the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas and Lawrence Foster, and a member of the YMF Trio. He was also principal violist in the Westside Symphony and USC Symphony; and a member of the Glendale Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, and UCLA Faculty Chamber Orchestra. Epstein was co-founder of the multi-award winning Los Angeles Piano Quartet. He was also one of the founding members of the Midnight Strings, who opened many concerts for Donovan. Prior to that, Epstein was a member of Mariano and the Unbelievables. Epstein appeared as a soloist with the USC Symphony, Claremont Music Festival, and with Pierre Boulez at the Ojai Festival. He was a former faculty member of the University of California, Irvine, and Cal State University, Los Angeles. Epstein also taught at California State University, Long Beach, as well as privately. Many of his former students are now members of major symphony orchestras.
Over the years, Epstein worked with and/or recorded numerous symphonic works with such iconic conductors as Claudio Abbado, Roberto Abbado, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Leonard Bernstein, Herbert Blomstedt, Victor Borge. Pierre Boulez, Aaron Copland, Antal Dorati, Gustavo Dudamel, Arthur Fiedler, Larry Foster, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Grant Gershon, Carlo Maria Giulini, Sidney Harth, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Marek Janowski, Danny Kaye, Eric Kunzel, Erich Leinsdorf, Daniel Lewis, Jaime Laredo, Henry Mancini, Zubin Mehta, Bobby McFerrin, David Allen Miller, Kent Nagano, Mikhail Pletnev, Roger Norrington, Eugene Ormandy, André Previn, Simon Rattle, Mstislav Rostropovich, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Kurt Sanderling, Peter Sellars, Yasuo Shinozaki, Calvin Simmons, Neil Stulberg, Yuri Temirkanov, Michael Tilson Thomas, Franz Welser-Möst, Mark Wigglesworth, and John Williams. His passions included composing and playing with his wife, vocalist Rebecca Dru. He can be heard on her award-winning lullaby CDs, “Night Songs” (the English version) and “Canti Notturni” (the Italian version).
Epstein was a three-time winner of the Coleman Artists’ Award and was also a winner of the Vera Barstow and Nadia Dekibort awards. Epstein served on the advisory board for the Chamber Orchestra of New York, was the Junior Chamber Music Program Beethoven String Quartet Coach (2005), and a member of the Young Musician’s Foundation Audition Panel for Debut Orchestra (2004).
Jerry is survived by his wife, Rebecca Dru, his daughter Jami, and his son Blake.