The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music news: Fine Arts Quartet cellist Wolfgang Laufer has died at 64

June 14, 2011

By Jacob Stockinger

Wolfgang Laufer (below), for almost 30 years the acclaimed cellist of the Fine Arts Quartet at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has died at 64 of lymphoma.

Below is an obituary with a lot of information about specifics and biographical history.

I only want to add that I met and heard Laufer several times when the Fine Arts Quartet (below top) would still come twice a season to the “Sunday Afternoon Live From The Elvehjem/Chazen” chamber music concerts in Madison, sponsored by Wisconsin Public Radio and the University of Wisconsin.

I heard his mellow, rich but balanced cello playing in many masterpieces – I loved his Beethoven and Haydn — and in contemporary music. He and the quartet also recorded quartets by Schumann, Franck, Bruckner and Mendelssohn.

I don’t know what his death means for the future of the quartet, which just a few years ago had to replace the violist who took a teaching post in Michigan. But I hope they continue to travel the globe giving concerts and to record for Naxos and other labels in addition to teaching at the UW-Milwaukee.

I also hope they return again soon and often to the “Sunday Live” programs  (below) where they always drew big and appreciative crowds.

I wouldn’t call Wolfgang a personal friend, but he was a professional contact, a spokeman for the quartet, and I spoke to him several times. A thoroughly serious and highly accomplished musician, he always had a ready laugh and a quick wit.

He was talented, accessible and congenial – a good mix, it seems to me, for an exemplary chamber musician and a great teacher. I am sorry he is gone too soon.

In his memory, I think I will tonight and tomorrow night listen to two of my favorite recordings with him and the venerable and accomplished Fine Arts Quartet: the Mozart‘s six Viola Quintets on Lyrinx and the Faure two Piano Quintets, with pianist Cristina Ortiz, on Naxos (below). And at the bottom of this, I am adding another cello work to mourn him.

You and your art gave much pleasure to many people. Rest in peace, Wolfgang Laufer.

Here is a link to his obituary:

I hope other readers – and especially cellists – will leave a comment or recollection in the Comments section.

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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