Born in Hungary in 1918, Lorand Fenyves was recognized as a child prodigy, attending the Franz Liszt Academy of Music and studying with Jeno Hubay and Zoltan Kodaly.
Though already an internationally renowned violinist and performer, he knew from the very beginning that he wanted to teach as well, and in 1934 he graduated from the Academy with a degree in performance as well as in music pedagogy.
In 1936, more than a decade before the establishment of the State of Israel, and just 18 years old, Fenyves was appointed concertmaster of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra. At the same time, he founded the Fenyves String Quartet, and co-founded the Tel Aviv Conservatory of Music. During his years in Israel he began a tradition that he continued throughout his life: accepting students not according to their ability to pay but according to their enthusiasm, motivation, and talent.
When the famed Swiss Ernest Ansermet invited Fenyves to take the position of concertmaster at the Suisse Romande, he accepted the position only on the condition he could continue teaching. He moved his young family to Geneva in 1957, becoming a professor at the Conservatoire de Geneve and leading the “classe de virtuosite”.
When U of T’s Faculty of Music came calling a decade later, Fenyves moved to Canada. He knew that by maintaining his focus on teaching and growing talent, he would permanently change the course of classical music in Canada. At the Faculty of Music, he found willing partners and support for his vision. The Faculty became his musical base; his colleagues became family. Fenyves’ energy, wisdom and leadership brought the level of music in Canada to a new high.
Lorand Fenyves approached life and music with humility. He knew he had been given a gift to share, and never allowed his ego to overshadow the music. Fenyves believed that teaching was not only a privilege but also a duty to help prepare future generations of musicians.
For almost seven decades, he was a teacher, mentor and role model for thousands of students and colleagues, performing and teaching across Canada and around the world. Throughout his life, Fenyves combined his joy of performing with his love of teaching and sharing his gift with younger musicians.
In the words of former student turned colleague and accomplished performer and teacher Scott St. John, “Lorand Fenyves approached both life and the violin with elegance, grace and humility. His energy, generosity and spirit must be carried forward by all who knew him.”