Samuel Rhodes is a consummate artist, well known as recitalist, soloist with orchestra, recording artist, composer, and teacher. Named the recipient of the American Viola Society’s Career Achievement Award, the Society’s highest honor, in June 2014, he has received international critical acclaim as a “master of the viola fit to stand with the instrument’s greatest” (Washington Post) and “a remarkably sensitive violist” (New York Times).
After 44 seasons as a member of the Juilliard String Quartet, Mr. Rhodes retired to dedicate himself to other areas of music making and teaching. His final concert with the quartet took place in July 2013 at the Ravinia Festival. The occasion was celebrated with a performance of his own string quintet with the incoming violist, Roger Tapping, as the guest artist. This is the same work that has been performed and recorded by the Pro Arte Quartet with Mr. Rhodes as guest.
Mr. Rhodes was very proud to be invited to join the viola and chamber music faculty of the Manhattan School of Music in 2014. He also continues to teach at the Juilliard School, where he serves as chair of viola; to be a participant in the Marlboro Music Festival, with which he has been involved since 1960; and to be a faculty member of the Tanglewood Music Center.
Mr. Rhodes’s solo appearances have included several recitals at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and an unaccompanied recital at the Juilliard School highlighted by world premieres of works by Milton Babbitt and Arthur Weisberg. In 1985, he supervised and performed in a recital series at Weill Hall, celebrating the 90th birthday of Paul Hindemith. In 1996, he organized and performed in a similar recital series at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, commemorating Hindemith’s 100th anniversary. In 1998, he gave the world premiere of Donald Martino’s Three Sad Songs for viola and piano with Thomas Sauer at the Library of Congress. In June 2001, Mr. Rhodes was invited to play a recital consisting of Babbitt’s Play it Again, Sam and the Vieuxtemps Sonata at the 10th anniversary of the Viola Space Series at Casals Hall, Tokyo, Japan. He gave the world premiere of Figment IV for solo viola by Elliott Carter in January 2008 in Paris. In September of that year, he was invited to teach and play a recital of music for solo viola at the International Mendelssohn Summer School at the Hamburg Hochschule fur Musik und Theater. To commemorate his 40th year both in the Juilliard String Quartet and as a Juilliard faculty member, he performed a recital featuring works composed especially for him, Babbitt’s Play It Again, Sam, Carter’s Figment IV, and Martino’s Three Sad Songs, as well as works by Stravinsky, Hindemith, and Hall Overton. He was invited to participate in the 2010 International Viola Congress in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he gave a recital, taught a master class, and appeared on a string quartet panel with Michael Tree, Laurence Dutton, and James Dunham. In October 2011, he was invited to give a recital and master class at the International Viola Congress in Wuerzburg, Germany. In March 2013, he served as a member of the jury at the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition where he also gave a recital and master class.
Between 1998 and 2001, Mr. Rhodes had the honor to be invited to join the late Isaac Stern as a coach in his Chamber Music Workshops in Jerusalem; in Miyazaki, Japan; and in New York at Carnegie Hall.
Mr. Rhodes, a native New Yorker, studied the viola with Sydney Beck and Walter Trampler. He has a BA from Queens College of the City University of New York and an MFA from Princeton University, where he studied composition with Roger Sessions and Earl Kim. His String Quintet for two violins, two violas and cello has been performed by the Blair, Composer’s, Galimir, Pro Arte, and Sequoia quartets and was recently recorded by the Pro Arte Quartet with the composer as guest.
As a member of the Juilliard String Quartet, Mr. Rhodes toured throughout Europe, North and South America, the Near East, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand; recorded an extensive catalogue of the string quartet literature on the CBS Masterworks, Sony Classical, Wergo, and CRI labels; won three Grammy Awards for the Debussy and Ravel Quartets, the complete Schoenberg Quartets, and the complete Beethoven Quartets; commissioned and performed the world premieres of works by Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, Mario Davidovsky, Henri Dutilleux, Alberto Ginastera, John Harbison, Fred Lerdahl, Donald Martino, Morton Subotnick, Ezequiel Vinao, Stefan Wolpe, and Richard Wernick. In 2002, the quartet gave the world premieres of newly commissioned works by Ralph Shapey and Gunther Schuller. In 2003, the Quartet celebrated 40 years of residency at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. by performing a Beethoven cycle combined with distinguished American works by Shapey, Schuller, Babbitt, Carter, and Ruth Crawford Seeger, as well as the world premiere of the Horn Quintet by Richard Wernick. In 2006–07, the quartet celebrated its 60th anniversary by presenting the cycle of six quartets of Bela Bartok in seven different cities including New York and Tokyo. In 2008, the Quartet gave world premieres of a Clarinet Quintet, with Charles Neidich, and a Piano Quintet, with Gilbert Kalish, by the late Ralph Shapey. In April 2008 they and Mr. Neidich performed the world premiere of the Clarinet Quintet by Elliott Carter. Mr. Rhodes has also been artist in residence at Michigan State University and has been awarded honorary doctorates by Michigan State, the University of Jacksonville, and the San Francisco Conservatory. He has appeared as a guest artist with the Beaux Arts Trio, the Mannes Trio, and the Trio Cavatina; and with the American, Blair, Brentano, Cleveland, Galimir, Guarneri, Jasper, Mendelssohn, Pro Arte, and Sequoia string quartets.