Ruth Breytspraak

(1893 - 1986)

by Naomi Urban & Sidney Stafford

A word about our founder, Ruth Breytspraak, a native of Chicago. With both father and maternal grandfather professional musicians, she grew up in the world of music. Frederick Stock, conductor of the Chicago Symphony, became aware of her talent and advised that she be sent abroad for further study of the violin.
She was accepted as a pupil of Henri Marteau, the noted French violinist who replaced the renowned Joseph Joachim as the head of the Berlin Hochschule für Musik. While in Berlin, she played on the annual Bach programs at the Dom and played solos under the direction of Professor Irrgang, the Imperial Music Director. She also played at concerts arranged by the Crown Princess Cecile at the homes of the Imperial Music Director and the Imperial Chancellor. After four years of advanced training from Marteau, Ruth was invited to be a member of the Von Paszthory String Quartet. But all engagements were canceled at the outbreak of the First World War, and she had to return home. After her return, Ruth continued her studies with Franz Kneisel and Leon Sametini. Ruth concertized throughout the Midwest in recitals and appearances with orchestras, including the St. Louis and Milwaukee Symphonies. In the mid-1920s she was again in Europe for study with Carl Flesch. She made a tour of the important music centers of France, playing recitals in Paris (program), Nice, and Strasbourg. Subsequently, Ruth taught in Chicago for many years on the faculty of the American Conservatory of Music and at De Paul University.
Ruth BreytspraakRuth's home in Chicago was a mecca for local and visiting artists, including Jacque Gordon and his fellow quartet members, the London String Quartet, and Jascha Heifetz, to name a few. Here, a young and gifted pianist, Sidney Stafford, was introduced to the wonderful world of chamber music while playing with these world-class musicians.
In 1943 Ruth moved to the Los Angeles area and established a studio in North Hollywood. In 1950, she moved to Redondo Beach, where she lived at 601 S. Gertruda Avenue. Ruth soon had a large class of violin students, and in 1963, she founded the South Bay Chamber Music Society. Her friend Jascha Heifetz made a $100 contribution in our early years. Ruth attended concerts well into her nineties. She died on Saturday, July 12, 1986 at the age of 93. Her influence as a teacher and as a warm human being touched many lives, and she will live forever in the memories of her friends and former students.

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