Violinist and teacher;
Born: October 22, 1927; Died : August 19, 2012.
Louis Carus, who has died aged 84, was a renowned violinist, teacher and orchestral player who played a leading role in Scottish musical life.
He was born in India, educated at Rugby, and thereafter was a leader of many ensembles, several of them in Scotland. To see him seated at the first violinist's desk of whatever outfit he happened to be attached to, a handshake's distance from the conductor (if the performance needed a conductor), inspired instant feelings of trust in what was to follow.
He was a musician who knew how to generate confidence, and did so whether as a junior member of the Scottish National Orchestra in 1950 or when leading less experienced players through the rigours of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis.
By 1955 he had become head of strings at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. Orchestral music, however, formed only part of his international expertise. After studying at the Brussels Conservatoire and Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory, he displayed a penchant for chamber music that stayed with him for the rest of his career, with Scotland again a major beneficiary.
Alongside Wight Henderson (piano) and Joan Dickson (cello), he founded the Scottish Piano Trio at a time when not even the Beethoven and Brahms trios were the everyday works they are now, but also when Scottish composers, including Thomas Wilson and Martin Dalby, had no obvious incentive to write music in that format. Dalby's trio, a Glasgow University McEwen commission composed for Carus and his colleagues in 1967, won him a major place on the map of Scottish chamber music.
But the Scottish Piano Trio was not Carus's only venture of its kind. He was also co-founder of the Scottish Piano Quartet, the Clarina Ensemble and, with the pianist-composer Edward Harper, the New Music Group of Scotland, whose encouraging of major Scottish composers gained it an important place in the Edinburgh Festival during Peter Diamand's reign as director.
Outside Scotland, Carus was leader of the Northern Sinfonia in Newcastle, sub-leader of John Eliot Gardiner's Monteverdi Orchestra and, from 1975, principal of the Birmingham School of Music (BSM), where he helped to develop the school's graduate courses, and founded the Granville Ensemble.
He was chairman of the European String Teachers Association and, in 1986, president of the International Society of Musicians. He visited the USSR as a representative of the British Council and was also chairman of the BSM centenary committee.
As co-founder of the St Endellion Music Festival in Cornwall, he was involved with this event for half a century, leading the festival orchestra and establishing the conductor Richard Hickox as one of its key musicians.
Several of his pupils retain memories of journeying all the way from Glasgow in his old Morris Traveller and helping to renovate the rectory (the festival's original headquarters) between rehearsals and concerts. After his retirement in 1987, Carus continued teaching and adjudicating, and was still playing shortly before his death last month. As a critic, I remember him specially for the suave beauty of his performances and for the tally of fine Scottish works he introduced to the repertoire.
A much-loved brother, husband, father and grandfather, in later life he returned to live in Glasgow, a city he loved. He died at Gartnavel General Hospital.
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