January 29, 2016
Pianist Annette Kaufman Dies
Widow, biographer of violinist Louis Kaufman was 101 by Jon Burlingame
WESTWOOD, Calif.—Annette Kaufman, pianist and widow of legendary Hollywood violinist Louis Kaufman, died Monday at her home in Westwood. She was 101.
Mrs. Kaufman completed and edited her husband's autobiography, A Fiddler's Tale: How Hollywood and Vivaldi Discovered Me, published in 2003. A tireless supporter of his work and his legacy, she traveled the world to talk about him and to share their mutual passion for 20th-century art.
Louis Kaufman is believed to be the most recorded violinist in history, as concertmaster or violin soloist on an estimated 500 films including Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, Wuthering Heights, Ben-Hur and many more, from 1934 to 1973. He died in 1994.
The Vivaldi reference in the book title concerns Kaufman's other great claim to fame. He was the first artist to record the Italian composer's Le Quattro Stagioni, or The Four Seasons, now one of the most famous pieces in the classical repertoire. Kaufman's 1947 recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.
She was born Annette Leibole in Chicago in 1914, grew up in North Dakota and met her future husband while studying music at the Institute of Musical Art (later Juilliard) in New York City. They were married in 1933 and moved to Los Angeles in 1934.
Although Louis Kaufman quickly became Hollywood's leading violinist, playing on dozens of scores every year under the batons of Herbert Stothart at M-G-M, Alfred Newman at 20th Century-Fox and Max Steiner at Warner Bros., Annette never played in the film studios. She was, however, her husband's frequent piano accompanist at chamber-music concerts both in the U.S. and Europe.
The Kaufmans took a sabbatical from movies in 1948, traveling throughout Europe and returning in the late 1950s. They became friends with, and premiered works by, many 20th-century composers including Aaron Copland, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Samuel Barber, William Grant Still and Robert Russell Bennett.
They were also inveterate art collectors, including many works by Milton Avery, many of which have been donated to the National Gallery of Art, Syracuse University and the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. Kaufman's papers are now at the Library of Congress.
There are no known survivors.
©2016 Jon Burlingame