Vivian Joseph Centenary

Today we celebrate the centenary of Vivian Joseph (1916-2005), cellist and former professor at Trinity College of Music (now Trinity Laban’s Faculty of Music).

TCM 12.7.1 Vivian Joseph 1934

Vivian Joseph in 1934. TCM Archive.

Born in Wales, Vivian Joseph took up the cello aged seven after hearing Lauri Kennedy play. He was soon hailed as a child prodigy, winning numerous awards at competitive festivals. A prize-winning studentship at the Royal Academy of Music followed, and in the late 1930s Joseph gave several critically-acclaimed recitals at the Wigmore Hall.

Master Joseph [12], not only carried off the prize for ‘cello playing in his own class … but also in the class for competitors under seventeen, and the senior class. [1]

During the Second World War Joseph enlisted in the army. He rose to become 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Ulster Rifles before being wounded in action in North Africa in 1944.

1944 on crutches

Vivian Joseph in uniform and on crutches after being wounded in action [1944]. TCM Archive.

After a lengthy rehabilitation, Joseph resumed his performing career, becoming a noted chamber musician. Among other groups, he was a member of the London Piano Quartet, the Park Lane Ensemble, and the Dumka Piano Trio. With the London String Trio he gave the European première of Schoenberg’s String Trio (the first performance was at Harvard, Massachusetts).

From 1953 Joseph taught cello and chamber music at Trinity College of Music and was awarded an honorary fellowship in 1965. In 1997 he generously funded a series of prizes to be awarded to college string students.[2] He also taught at the Royal Academy of Music. Joseph died in 2005 and his obituary was published in the Guardian.

In the archives we hold a file relating to Vivian Joseph which includes photographs, a scrapbook and concert programmes. Please get in touch if you would like to see the material.

[1] ‘Boy Prodigies’, Nottingham Evening Post, 11 April 1929.

[2] Trinity College of Music, Magazine, Autumn 1997, p. 8 and supplement.

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