Robert Mann, at 93 years of age, has been a driving force in the world of music for more than seventy years. As founder and first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet, and as a soloist, composer, teacher, and conductor, Mr. Mann has brought a refreshing sense of adventure and discovery to chamber music performances, master classes, and orchestral performances worldwide. He is, in the words of Richard Dyer of the Boston Globe, “one of the country’s most admired and deeply loved musicians.”
Born in Portland, Oregon in 1920, Mr. Mann began studying violin when he was eight, and at age 13 was accepted into the class of Edouard Hurlimann, concertmaster of the Portland Symphony. In 1938, he moved to New York City to enroll in The Juilliard School, where he studied violin with Edouard Dethier, composition with Bernard Wagenaar and Stephan Wolpe, and conducting with Edgar Schenkman. Mr. Mann won the prestigious Naumburg competition in 1941.
In 1946, at the invitation of Juilliard’s president, William Schuman, Robert Mann founded the Juilliard String Quartet serving as the ensemble’s first violinist for 51 years until his retirement from the Quartet in 1997. The quartet, which celebrated its Golden Jubilee during the 1996-97 season, had played approximately 5,500 concerts and performed more than 500 works including some 100 premieres. Its discography includes recordings of more than 100 compositions. The Juilliard String Quartet received three Grammy Awards, and in 2011, the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award.
Mr. Mann is a prolific composer and has composed more than 30 works for narrator with various instruments that he performs with his wife, the actress Lucy Rowan. He has also composed an Orchestral Fantasy performed by Dimitri Mitropoulos with the New York Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, and at the Salzburg Festival; a Duo for Violin and Piano that was premiered at Carnegie Hall by Itzhak Perlman; and a String Quartet that was included in the repertoires of both the La Salle and the Concord String Quartets. His other works include a Duo for Cello and Piano written for Joel Krosnick and Gilbert Kalish, a Concerto for Orchestra, and “Lament” for two solo violas and orchestra. His work “Dream Time” was recently recorded by violist David Carpenter.
Robert Mann has conducted throughout his professional career, leading ensembles such as the New York Chamber Symphony, Manhattan School of Music Symphony, and ensembles at the Ravinia, Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals. In addition, at the invitation of Seiji Ozawa, he has been in residence at Japan’s Saito Kinen Music Festival as a conductor, teacher, and performer. He also serves as head teacher at Seiji Ozawa’s International Academy for String Quartets and Chamber Ensembles in Rolle, Switzerland. Robert Mann is a mentor to younger generations of string quartets including the Alexander, American, Concord, Emerson, LaSalle, New World, Mendelssohn, Tokyo, Brentano, Lark, St. Lawrence, and Colorado string quartets.
Mr. Mann continues to actively perform as a violinist recently performing concerts in New York, Los Angeles, San Franciso and Houston. He is on the faculty at Manhattan School of Music and for the past two years MSM has presented the Robert Mann String Quartet Seminar which brings the country’s most talented young string quartets to the school for intensive week-long coachings with Mr. Mann. Since 1971, Mr. Mann has been President of the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation and his wife, Lucy Rowan Mann, is the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation’s Executive Director. Speak the Music: Robert Mann and the Mysteries of Chamber Music, a film by Allan Miller, is soon to be released.
Robert Mann has been married to Lucy Rowan Mann for 62 years. They have two children, Nicholas and Lisa.