Renowned violist, teacher and conductor Jesse Levine died last week. He taught at Yale University and conducted several orchestras in Connecticut.
Jesse Levine was born in 1940 in New York City to a musical family. He began playing the viola at an early age..and studied at the Mannes College of Music. His first commercial job - performing with Harry Belafonte –landed him the money to buy a viola..one that he used for the rest of his career. As a young violist at the Tanglewood Music Festival, Levine played Igor Stravinsky’s Elegy, with Stravinsky. Later, he was principal viola of symphony orchestras in Buffalo, Dallas, Baltimore and New Jersey.
Cellist and Yale professor Aldo Parisot. "He had the most beautiful vibrato, the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. The sound of Jesse Levine was unique…something unique. We used to joke all the time..He used to say that I gave him the vibrato..and he taught me how to conduct. You know we joke all the time about this… "
Parisot describes Levine as a loyal friend, a master of jokes and a fantastic viola teacher. "First of all, he loved to teach. There are many people that teach because they’re making a salary..making a living. With Jesse it was the love of teaching".
Levine taught viola and chamber music at the Yale School of Music since 1983. In Connecticut, he was music director of the New Britain and Norwalk Symphonies. He played and led orchestras in Europe, South America, Israel, Australia and throughout the US. Jesse Levine died after a long fight with pancreatic cancer. He was 68 years old.