Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Siegmund Nissel, 86

Siegmund Nissel, second violinist in the Amadeus String Quartet (with Norbert Brainin, Peter Schidlof, and Martin Lovett) has died at the age of 86, according to the Telegraph.
Siegmund Walter Nissel (Sigi) was born in Munich on January 3 1922 and began playing the violin at the age of six. His mother died when he was nine and he was taken by his father to live in Vienna, where his teachers included Max Weissgärber. Father and son were touring Germany in 1936 and saw some of the Olympic events in Berlin. As Jesse Owens, the black American runner, won one of his four gold medals Nissel spotted Hitler in his box and observed the F├╝hrer's discomfort. He also told, in Daniel Snowman's book The Hitler Emigrés, of how, two years later, he watched: "with horror and incredulity as the stolid burghers of Vienna welcomed the Nazis as 'liberators'."

Nissel was to leave the city on one of the last Kindertransport trains. He made his way to Britain where, in order to save his father, he had to find a guarantor. He knocked on doors until the Farrer family in Twickenham – total strangers, and Anglicans to boot – agreed to offer the requisite guarantee. Nissel père arrived in August 1939, just days before the outbreak of war.

Initially young Sigi was an air raid warden in Richmond, but he was soon interned on the Isle of Man as a "friendly enemy alien" by a British government fearful that the Nazis might have planted spies in the country.

There he met Schidlof and later Brainin. He was released after the intervention of [Ralph] Vaughan Williams and Myra Hess and found employment in the East End of London working in a metals factory for the war effort.
Here the "Wolf Gang" plucks a Bartók movement.

Source (3:05)

Thanks to Joseph Haberer for the lead.

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