‘World-class’ UW violinist Vartan Manoogian dies

July 13, 2007

by Richard Mumford

Vartan Manoogian, professor of violin at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, died on Thursday, July 12, in Spain. He was 71.

Manoogian was born in Baghdad to Armenian parents and studied at the Paris Conservatory beginning at the age of 16. He earned a master's degree from the Juilliard School, where he studied violin with Ivan Galamian and chamber music with members of the Juilliard String Quartet.

Manoogian served as associate concertmaster of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra and later as concertmaster of L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, directed by Ernest Ansermet. He was artist in residence at the North Carolina School of the Arts and a member of the Claremont String Quartet before joining the UW-Madison faculty in 1980.

Manoogian's interests covered a broad spectrum of repertoire, artistic collaboration and pedagogy. His studio at the School of Music encompassed freshmen through doctoral students, many of whom became successful teachers, chamber musicians and members of professional orchestras. He was the artistic director of the Madeline Island Music Camp in northern Wisconsin, responsible for hiring the faculty and planning each season, and had performed there with cellist Christopher French and UW faculty pianist Christopher Taylor on June 27.

He was the author of the four-volume Foundations of Violin Technique, published in both English and Spanish. In 2004, he recorded the complete sonatas and partitas for solo violin by J. S. Bach, a two-disc set sold through the School of Music's online CD store. And he maintained active associations in Spain, where he traveled most summers to teach and perform.

Tyrone Greive, professor of violin and concertmaster of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, joined the school's faculty in 1979 and served on the search committee that culminated with the appointment of Manoogian in 1980. Greive says of his colleague: "His artistry and personality touched many students, colleagues, audiences and others through his teaching and performing at the university, as well as locally, statewide, nationally and internationally. He will be greatly missed by many."

Janet Jensen, professor of string pedagogy and a member of the school's faculty since 1992, says "Professor Manoogian brought international stature and world-class artistry to our campus. His passion for excellence in teaching and performance attracted many wonderful students, to whom he was totally committed-not just while they were in school, but through their continuing study and careers as well. He was the consummate artist-teacher, and his influence will be measured internationally and generationally. We have lost a treasured colleague and friend, and the world has lost one of its most beautiful voices."