WERNER L GEBAUER
May 23, 1918 - December 4, 2013
A resident of Pasadena for the past 17 years, Gebauer, born into a
family of prominent diplomats and physicians, with a direct lineage to Felix Mendelssohn on his mother's side, will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.
At age 5, he was given his first violin, and teacher, Ossip Schnirlin; the former was "odious" and the latter "a tyrant" (according to Gebauer). Yet to everyone's surprise, 3 years after his first lesson, Gebauer gave a wildly acclaimed recital at Berlin's Beethoven Hall, and within 2 years, his performances had spanned three Continents.
Gebauer arrived at Ellis Island with $7. - in his pocket and not a soul he could call a friend; pretty staggering odds! Yet fate would intervene, as one day he idly followed a line of young people w/fiddle-cases into a building, where he auditioned and was accepted for a fellowship into Juilliard Graduate School, assigned to the class of Albert Spalding, the great American violinist. After 3 years of intensive studies he made his debut at Carnegie Hall, conducted by Otto Klemperer, which opened doors to world tours with the famous Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, followed by concertmaster-ships with the National Symphony in Washington D.C. and the Dallas Symphony. In Dallas a strong friendship developed between Yehudi Menuhin and Gebauer. When Gebauer recorded Vivaldi's '4 Seasons', Sir Yehudi took the concermaster chair, Antal Dorati conducting.
All told, Gebauer concertized on every Continent, performed as a soloist with most of the major symphony orchestras, had 3 Hollywood Bowl appearances to his credit, played 2 times at the 'White House' (for Roosevelt and Harry Truman), and was decorated by 3 governments.
Gebauer kept up with his education and holds Doctorates from the University of Koenigsberg and Columbia University. He completed 13 novels, an autobiography, and countless articles for magazines and scientific journals. What's more, Gebauer tried to teach Albert Einstein to play a Mozart violin concerto on a dozen pilgrimages to Princeton, however, unsuccessfully by his own admissions...
A 'labor of love' was the formation of the Maui Symphony in Hawaii which Gebauer founded and conducted in its initial 2 concert-seasons, 1979/80. 20 years later, he was invited back as guest conductor for the opening of the orchestra's new concert hall.
Yet, Gebauer's proudest "achievement" remained his 4 children (Robin/Andrea/Marc/and Craig), 10 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren!
Published in Pasadena Star-News on Dec. 15, 2013