Musical world, and Aspen, loses a legend
March 26, 2002
Dorothy DeLay, whose students at The Juilliard School and the Aspen Music Festival and School are among the most famous violinists in the world, died Sunday at her home in Upper Nyack, N.Y.
Miss DeLay, as she was known to pre-eminent soloists and teenage prodigies alike, had been battling cancer for over a year. She would have been 85 on Sunday.
A Kansas native and the daughter of two teachers, DeLay began her teaching career at Juilliard in 1948, working under her mentor, Ivan Galamian. In 1970, DeLay broke with Galamian: Instead of spending the summer at Meadowmount, Galamian’s music camp in upstate New York, DeLay came to Aspen with her retinue of students. She would go on to spend each summer in Aspen and became a powerful presence at the Music Festival.
The list of DeLay students, many of whom were intensely devoted to her, reads like a roster of the giants of the contemporary violin world. Among her students were Itzhak Perlman, Gil Shaham, Robert McDuffie, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Sarah Chang, Midori, Cho-Liang Lin, Nigel Kennedy, Shlomo Mintz, Kyoko Takezawa and numerous others. Most every one of her students answered to the name “honey” or “sugarplum.” DeLay typically served not only as teacher, but mentor, confidante, career advisor and booster.
DeLay was described as the world’s foremost violin teacher by publications such as The New York Times, France’s Le Monde de la Musique and South Africa’s Die Volksblad. She was the subject of “Teaching Genius: Dorothy DeLay and the Making of a Musician,” written by Barbara Lourie Sand and published in 2000.
David Zinman, music director of the Aspen Music Festival, said in a press release that “Dorothy DeLay was a legend and her pupils are legion. When she came to Aspen she changed the whole emphasis of the school, and because of her, many of the greatest artists of our day are a part of the Aspen Music Festival experience. This is a great loss for us, a great loss for the world of music, and for me personally, I will miss her very much.”
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Hal Laster, dean of the Aspen Music School, was a colleague of DeLay’s since 1976, both in Aspen and at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He noted that DeLay “often said that she taught because in the process of teaching, she learned. This love of learning was part of the legacy she left to all her students and what made her so very inspiring.”
In addition to her husband, Edward Newhouse, DeLay is survived by two children: Alison Dinsmore of Boston and Jeffrey Newhouse of Bronxville, N.Y. She is also survived by four grandchildren: Molly and Susannah Dinsmore, Amy Lee and Edward Newhouse.
The family has requested that instead of flowers, contributions be made to the Dorothy DeLay Fellowship Fund at the Aspen Music Festival and School, or to the Dorothy DeLay Scholarship in Violin at The Juilliard School.
The Aspen Music Festival had planned a concert on Aug. 3 to celebrate DeLay’s 85 years. Instead, a memorial concert will be held.