Noted virtuoso violinist, 23-year member of the New York Philharmonic, musicologist, author, teacher, and holocaust survivor, Gabriel Banat died suddenly of a stroke at his summer home in Begur, Spain on July 23, 2016 in his 89th year. Born in Timisoara, Romania, he began his studies of the violin at age six. At age nine he was heard by Bela Bartok. As a result he became a student at the Royal Academy Franz List in Budapest, Hungary where his teachers included Ede Zathureczky and Zoltan Kodaly. Despite Hungary's anti-Jewish laws, while still a student at the Academy he appeared as soloist with most of Budapest's major symphony orchestras. At 17, just before going into hiding from the Nazis, he received his Academy diploma after playing his degree program in secret, with the faculty-jury hiding in the darkened hall. Liberated by the Red Army, he became the protege of Enescu, who joined him at the piano in concerts. After reaching the U.S. he worked with Nathan Milstein, then toured the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan, soloing with major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, which he joined in 1970 and remained with for 23 years. As a chamber musician he performed with the Galimir Quartet, the Albeneri Trio, the Marlboro Festival, and the New York Philharmonic Chamber Ensembles, among others. He edited a six-volume collection of violinist-composers of the 17th and 18th centuries titled "Masters of the Violin". Discovering Mozart's original autograph manuscripts of his five violin concerti, he edited their facsimile publication as "The Mozart Violin Concerti" so that violinists could finally see Mozart's original bowing markings. He authored a biography of the Chevalier de St. Georges, the distinguished black French composer-virtuoso violinist of the late 18th century, and contributed articles for Strad Magazine, Allegro Magazine, Black Music Research Journal and "The New Grove 2000". He taught at Smith College and Hart College of Music, lectured at NYU, and headed the violin department of the Westchester Conservatory of Music where he conducted the orchestra. During the painful 1973 New York Philhamonic strike, elected by his colleagues, Banat organized a historic concert tour of Spain and Portugal by members of the orchestra, independent of its management, to enable them to meet their living expenses. He is survived by his wife, Diana Stevenson Banat, his children Catherine Banat and Peter Banat, grandchildren Alexander, Julia, Adam, and Derek, and his step-children Cindy Wallen, Sue Brengel and Chris Brengel. Arrangements for a memorial service are incomplete at this time.

Published by New York Times on Aug. 1, 2016.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Add a Message

Not sure what to say?

15 Entries
Gabriel had a huge influence on my life. At a time when I was a lost soul in a confusing world, he reached into my fog and pulled me out. His passion for his art and belief that I, too, had the ability and passion, gave me the greatest gift of all ~ that of the violin and music. I will forever be grateful.
Cowan Kathen
December 6, 2018
March 10, 2017
This is KwanBin from Seattle. I was loss for words upon hearing his passing. He was the most influential person in my life, not only as a mentor of the world of violin and music, but as a generous father figure. I'll cherish the memories of him everlastingly and hold dear to my heart his teaching.
My deepest condolences. Sincerely,
Kwan Park
August 25, 2016
Gabriel was an enormous influence in my life and a major reason I followed the path to becoming a professional musician. He was always a caring and exciting figure to look up to. I will always carry him in my heart and will miss him greatly. My love to Diana and all his family and friends.
Rhonni Hallman
August 23, 2016
Condolences to the Banat family from a former student. I gained so so much from him for many years.
Shlomo Luwish
shlomo luwish
August 10, 2016
My condolences to Gabriel's family. May the God of comfort be with you all in your time of need.
August 8, 2016
Dear Diana,
You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. What a privilege to have known Gabby!
Penelope and Pasquale Gemma
August 8, 2016
Dear Diana: My heartfelt condolences to you and the entire family. Gabby was a dear friend and colleague. We shared so many memorable experiences. He was always optimistic, encouraging and visionary with a handsome , beaming smile. Warm and cultured, he was enlightening and inspiring. With warm regards to you and your family. Lenny Hindell
Leonard Hindell
August 2, 2016
All my condolences.
Heartfully from Guadeloupe, and with unlimited love
Joel Christian MABIALA
August 2, 2016
Teacher, Mentor, Friend - since that summer of 1968 playing music and learning. Always happy to run into the people he cared about - who were many - and I was fortunate to be one of them.

Rest well Gabby - I am grateful for your gifts; and send condolences to your family.
Howard Heller
August 1, 2016
What a lovely man he was! Warm and funny. We have many happy memories of times together.

Lynda and Art Copeland
August 1, 2016
My condolences to the Banat family. My grandfather is Paul Ormos. I have heard of Gabby all my life and i know he meant the world to my grandpa. I'm glad he lived such an amazingly accomplished life and had such a large and wonderful family.


Jennifer Brunet
Jennifer Brunet
August 1, 2016
Cathy, Peter and Diana, please accept our condolences. "Uncle Gaby" was always a bit of a mythical figure for me growing up in Montreal. My grandmother and father would tell me tales about him and the violin, perhaps to inspire me during my childhood violin studies. Imagine when Gaby let me play his violin during one of his Montreal tours! A budding virtuo I wasn't! Very sorry for your loss and please know that my trouts are with you at this time. Kind regards.
Edith Ormos-akehoe
August 1, 2016
With greatest sorrow, your ever loving chlidhood and rest of your life friend and cousin who will be joining you one of these days soon
Paul Ormos
August 1, 2016
Beloved friend, you will be sorely missed.
Susan Kagan
August 1, 2016
Showing 1 - 15 of 15 results