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Sunday, July 14, 2019


(Isaac Melamed)

Durban lovers of classical music will be sorry to hear of the death of Isaac Melamed, a former member of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra.

Johan Grobbelaar of The Violin Connection of Southern Africa released the following news on his Facebook page,

“Isaac Melamed has left.

It’s with sadness that I learnt today of the death of Isaac Melamed, a truly important violinist and teacher.

Isaac was Russian and was for 18 years Concert Master of the Odessa Opera. He then moved to Israel from where he was recruited as one of the founder members of the KZN Philharmonic in Durban, as Associate Concert Master.

He retired from the KZNPO during my tenure as Orchestra Manager in the late 1990s, but continued playing as freelancer for several more years. He also taught violin at the University of KZN in Durban.

Through the years Isaac had very many pupils - I know that Marc Uys and Naomi Pearl Warr were his students.

I don’t have his age but he would now have been in his eighties. He was a good friend who often came to my workshop - we saw eye to eye on good violin performance, but he taught me much about the subtleties of maintaining intonation in the Bach solo sonatas. We spoke on the phone about two weeks ago and I knew he wasn’t well, but the end was unexpected.

He taught me to be a bit less serious about life. I will miss him a lot,” Grobbelaar concludes

Boris Kerimov, Principal Cellist of the KZN Philharmonic since its inception, also pays tribute to Melamed:

“Isaac was a very good friend of mine and my family. He with his wife Lina were among the very first people who helped us when we arrived from Russia in 1999. I will never forget how much of his personal time he sacrificed to make our stay in South Africa memorable and enjoyable. Isaac was absolutely, almost fanatically devoted to music and to the violin. He loved opera, for many years he was a concertmaster of the Odessa State Opera Theatre - the position of a very high rank in the Soviet Union. Odessa State Opera Theatre was one of the best opera theatres in the USSR.

“After immigrating to Israel and working for a few years there, he was appointed a principal violinist with the Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (now KZNPO). Being an outstanding violinist he also was an incredible teacher who raised quite a number of young violin players in South Africa. Isaac was a man with a very sharp mind and incredible sense of humour. He was disciplined himself and loved this quality in others. He was never afraid to tell the truth because a real friend understands that only with truth one can grow to be a better person or a better musician, that’s why his comments on my music performance were so important to me,” Kerimov concludes.