The classical music and artist community is deeply saddened by the loss of Meyer Stolov, 93, violinist and painter, who passed away on January 30, 2023 at Cayuga Medical Center after a brief illness. Meyer was a friendly, energetic and charismatic man, tirelessly devoted to creating music and, later in life, to painting.
Meyer was born Meyer Stolow (later changing his name to Stolov to avoid repeated mispronunciation) in Montreal on October 31, 1929. His parents, immigrants from Lithuania, had wanted to settle in the United States, but, after being granted a Canadian visa, emigrated to Montreal. Meyer was born in and grew up among extended family in the city’s close-knit, Jewish immigrant community. He was already 16 when he had his first violin lessons at a local music school, making remarkable progress, especially in light of such a late start. From then on, he wrote in his memoirs, “my life took on new meaning”.
Meyer moved to London in 1953 as a scholarship student at the Royal Academy of Music and then pursued additional studies in Brussels and Siena, Italy. In 1959 he married pianist Gwyneth Jones, a classmate at the Royal Academy, and they had two children, Naomi in 1963 and Aaron in 1966.
After finishing his studies in 1958, Meyer returned to London to pursue his musical career. With his innate talent, he achieved rapid and distinguished success, playing with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic and the Philharmonia. In 1960 he became concertmaster of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for three years, taking part in the premiere of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. While in Birmingham he also performed with the Voces Intimae String Quartet and the Delphos Ensemble. In 1964 he became co-concertmaster of the London Mozart Players where he worked for and became friends with Yehudi Menuhin and, in 1969, he was appointed concertmaster and resident soloist of the Ulster Orchestra.
Having relocated for a year to play with the Vancouver Symphony, Meyer returned to London and joined the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1972, becoming concertmaster in 1974, a position he held until 1981. During his tenure, Meyer played with and for a great number of outstanding artists, such as Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Kiri Te Kanawa, Lorin Maazel, Georg Solti, Colin Davis, Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, and had the honor of leading the orchestra at the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. Meyer also enjoyed an extensive career as a freelance musician alongside his orchestral commitments, recording numerous soundtracks for major motion pictures and countless classic hits at EMI Recording Studios, later renamed Abbey Road Studios, recording ‘Hey Jude’ in 1968 with The Beatles (whom Meyer called “nice boys”).
In 1981 Meyer left London for New York City when his son Aaron was beginning violin studies at The Juilliard School, allowing Meyer to reconnect with his US and Canadian relatives and to work as a freelance musician. While freelancing, Meyer met Susan Stewart, a professional classical flutist with outstanding musical abilities, who became his second wife and lifelong partner in 1985.
Although Meyer and Susan had successful careers as New York freelancers, they decided to relocate to Ithaca, NY in 1986 to enjoy a more tranquil lifestyle. There they played an active role in Ithaca’s thriving musical community – Meyer became concertmaster of the Corning Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, played with the Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra, and taught at Cornell University.
In 2002, while in his 70s, Meyer took a painting class at the Ithaca Senior Center and discovered a new passion which captivated him for the remainder of his life. Keen to develop his painting skills, Meyer found his way to the studio of Thomas Buechner in Corning, NY, with whom he painted, studied and collaborated for many years. Meyer focused mainly on portrait painting and exhibited his work locally. Many of his portraits’ subjects were fellow musicians, artists and performers as well as family members and friends.
Besides music and painting, Meyer’s other interests were many and varied. But it was music that Meyer lived for above all else, and it was for the works of Franz Schubert that Meyer had the deepest love.
Meyer is survived by his wife of nearly 40 years, Susan Trainer Stolov of Ithaca, NY. He is also survived by his first wife, Gwyneth Stolow of Devon, England, and their two children, Jonathan Aaron of Ithaca, NY and Naomi of Devon, England; his twin brother Ben, a violist, and his wife, Bluma of Montreal, Canada; and his niece Eleanor of Philadelphia, PA. Meyer is dearly missed by his stepdaughter Elizabeth, her husband Tom, and their three children William, Grace and Charlotte, of Ridgefield, CT. A memorial service and musical tribute will be planned for late spring. Interested parties should email firstname.lastname@example.org and your name will be added to future notices.