Ross, Gilbert, 1903-

Birth 1903

Biographical notes:

Gilbert Ross was an internationally recognized violinist who served as professor of music and first violinist of the Stanley Quartet at the University of Michigan from 1942 until his retirement in 1970.

Born in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1903, Ross was raised in Madison, Wisconsin where his father was a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin. His early musical studies were at the Wisconsin School of Music and the Chicago Musical College. In 1917, at the age of 13, he was awarded the College's Diamond Medal for the Preparatory Department in recognition of his great talent. His principal violin instruction came under the great masters Leon Sametini in Chicago, and later under Leopold Auer in New York.

During the 1922-1923 season Ross toured Germany making his solo debut with the Berlin Philharmonic. Upon his return to the United States in 1923 he presented a debut recital at Town Hall in New York, and in 1925 he performed his London debut. During the coming years he appeared in concerts throughout the United States and Canada performing both as an orchestral soloist and in solo recitals.

Professor Ross' teaching experience began at Cornell University in 1931 as assistant professor of music. From 1935 to 1942 he served as associate professor of music at Smith College. He joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in 1942 where he remained until his retirement in 1970. In the summer of 1936, Ross taught at the University of Wisconsin and in the summer of 1960 he taught at Yale University.

While at the University of Michigan, Ross served as a strong proponent of revitalizing the string program and establishing a string quartet in residence. It was under Gilbert Ross' encouragement that the Stanley Quartet was established in 1949. The quartet was named by the Board of Regents in honor of Albert A. Stanley, a leader in the early musical life of Ann Arbor and professor and director of the School of Music from 1889 until his retirement in 1922. The Stanley Quartet was one of the earliest of the ensembles in residence established at schools of music in the United States.

Ross was a member of the quartet from its inception until his retirement in 1970. The membership of the quartet was very stable during Ross' tenure with the group. Gustave Rosseels of Brussels became second violinist in 1951, Robert Courte of Brussels became violist in 1957. Oliver Edel was the group's original cellist, replaced by Jerome Jelinek, a graduate of the University of Michigan, in 1961.

One of the primary functions of the Stanley Quartet was the presentation of new music. Annual commissions of chamber music began in 1949 with prominent composers of the twentieth century comprising the list. The Stanley Quartet gave first performances of over twenty-five works composed by such noteworthy composers as Walter Piston, Quincy Porter, Darius Milhaud, Elliot Carter, and George Crumb. In 1958, the quartet toured South America as part of the United States' International Cultural Program.

Ross' strong commitments to teaching and performance led to his being awarded the Outstanding Faculty Achievement Award in 1957. His dedication to promoting string instrument education and performance, both on an individual basis and through the Stanley Quartet, was a dominant force in building the string program at the University of Michigan School of Music.

From the guide to the Gilbert Ross Papers, 1911-1975, (Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)


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  • Music--Michigan--Ann Arbor


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