By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
Irving Geller, who served as associate concertmaster of the
Los Angeles Philharmonic for nearly 25 years in a career that spanned nearly a
half-century with the orchestra, died on Nov. 16 at the age of 85. Following is
the Phil’s media release:
Irving Geller, Associate Concertmaster and first violinist
with the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1951-1999, passed away peacefully on
November 16, surrounded by friends and family. Mr. Geller, born January 10,
1926, is survived by his wife, actress Helen Geller, his children Paul and
Valerie, and grandchildren Juliana, Aaron, James and Greyson.
Irving Geller was born in Warsaw, Poland, and began his
musical studies at the age of five. He made his solo debut at age ten, playing
the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Hull House Symphony Orchestra in
Chicago. Performances as a recitalist and orchestra soloist brought the young
violinist many awards and critical praise.
While still in his early teens, he and his family moved to
Los Angeles, where his music studies continued and he appeared as soloist with
various orchestras and on radio.
Geller then became Assistant Concertmaster of the San
Antonio Symphony Orchestra; following his three years in Texas he joined the
Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1951, becoming one of its youngest members. He has
served as Concertmaster of the California Chamber Symphony, the Los Angeles
Chamber Society (comprised of Los Angeles Philharmonic members), and other
musical organizations in the Los Angeles area.
For nearly 25 years, he was the Philharmonic’s Associate
Drafted as a machine gunner in the infantry of the U.S.
Army, Geller received the Purple Heart after being injured at the “Battle of
the Bulge” (1944-45).
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, November 20, at
Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary located at 6001 W. Centinela Avenue, Los
Angeles, CA 90045 at 3pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations
be made in Irving’s name to the Jewish National Fund, Trees for Israel or the
American Cancer Society.
(c) Copyright 2011, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.