Leonard Bogdanoff, Philadelphia Orchestra violist

Posted: March 17, 2014

Leonard Bogdanoff, 83, of Elkins Park, a violist with the Philadelphia Orchestra for a half-century, died Friday, March 15, at his home.

Colleagues said Mr. Bogdanoff personified the best qualities of the orchestra's old guard.

"When I think of Leonard, I think of the kindness in dealing with all of the other members of the viola section. He was just very fair," said Pamela Faye, a substitute violist with the orchestra and a frequent stand partner of Mr. Bogdanoff's. "You can have people who can make or break a section, and he was one of the ones who gave a positive influence, sound-wise, stylistically, all of it. That was really an inspiration to me."

Retired orchestra member Louis Lanza, who as a second violinist sat not far from Mr. Bogdanoff, called him "a very steady player, very accurate, and just a wonderful musician."

Born in South Philadelphia, Mr. Bogdanoff attended South Philadelphia High School and studied viola with Leonard Mogill and violin with Frank Costanzo. He was tutored in chamber music under Edgar Ortenberg, former violinist with the Budapest String Quartet, at the Settlement Music School. He left Philadelphia to join the Air Force Band, and returned home from Washington nearly four years later to assume a career as a freelance violist.

He quickly won a spot in the New Orleans Symphony as assistant principal violist, but before the season was over was called back to Philadelphia as a member of the orchestra starting in the 1955-56 season, a post he held until retiring in 2005.

During his early years, he also played with the Stringart Quartet (later known as the Philadelphia String Quartet) with violinists Veda Reynolds and Irwin Eisenberg, and cellist Herschel Gordon.

In addition to his half-century as an orchestral player, Mr. Bogdanoff was a wood carver, an avocation that resulted in his crafting not only caricatures, but also violin, viola, and cello bows, some of which his colleagues used.

He is survived by his wife, Arlene; daughters Adrienne McCready and Sharon Beyer; a sister; and four grandchildren.

A service will be at 10 a.m. Sunday, March 16, at Goldsteins' Rosenberg's Raphael-Sacks, 6410 N. Broad St.




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