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Thanks, guys

She was my one of my favorite people on earth. She didn't have a mean bone in her body, and she wore her heart on her sleeve. For every occasion, she would find the most unusual and perfect card and then write a couple of paragraphs of exactly how she felt in her heart. She was a one in a million kind of gal, and often the only person I could find to discuss "deep" and "profound" subjects with.

I can't believe she's gone. Death is such a weird experience. Last week, she was sitting in a chair, reading a book, and looking forward to going home. Now she's just "gone".

It really is so strange.

I know that sense of nubdness and the feeling it's not real. Are donations in her name being sent somewhere>?
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Eric, Please accept our deepest sympathy in the loss of Aunt Muriel. She was indeed a great lady in so many ways.

That she was an incredible violist goes without saying because she was hired by the late great George Szell, who just didn't hire women. I believe she was the very first lady he hired. And this was during the greatest days of the Cleveland Orchestra, when there was no orchestra on earth that could ever touch the beauty and purity of their string sound.

Last summer in Philadelphia, at a recital in tribute to Orlando Cole, the great cellist of the Curtis String Quartet I met two fine musicians who played in The Cleveland Orchestra and remember Muriel Carmen with great affection and respect for her fine viola playing.

And she knew what she was doing when she took you to all of those rehearsals: grooming a musical genius. You were surely the apple of her eye.

Aunt Muriel's passing is a great loss to the music world and the world at large. I deeply regret never having met her, but I will cherish all the more Robert Marsh's book, "The Cleveland Orchestra," which celebrates the greatest days of the orchestra and which I acquired with Aunt Muriel in mind, because she's featured in it.

Our prayers are with you and I know that in time your precious memories of the special relationship you shared with Aunt Muriel will comfort you.

frown --Love, Darlene

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From "Fanfare / Portraits of The Cleveland Orchestra" 1995 edition

When she heard that George Szell "would be interested in hearing a 'girl' violist" Muriel Carmen auditioned for The Cleveland Orchestra.

Her hiring in 1951 made the gossip column: "It was only when I read the paper that I learned I had been engaged by The Cleveland Orchestra," she recalls. One of only three female members when she joined, Ms. Carmen was, at the time of her retirement in September of 1994, the Orchestra's senior female musician and one of 19 women in the 105 member ensemble.

Muriel Carmen began the study of violin at age 7 with encouragement from her parents. Her teacher, Ralph Katz, provided free lessons at a time when her parents could not afford them. Because she loved practicing, Muriel spent much of her time preparing for her future as a professional musician.

During her college years at Western Reserve University (now Case-Western Reserve University), Ms. Carmen studied viola with Cleveland Orchestra violist Tom Brennand and Fredrick Funkhouser, and violin with assistant concertmaster Felix Eyle. She played viola in the University orchestra and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in music education, with a minor in English literature.

World War II was a turning point in Ms. Carmen's professional career. When male musicians went of to war, talented female musicians were given new opportunities to play professionally. Ms. Carmen's first chance to play in a professional orchestra was with the Kansas City Philharmonic, where she was a member for two seasons before returning home to Cleveland.

Ms. Carmen has taught both music and science in the Cleveland

Public Schools and has served on the faculty of the Cleveland Music School Settlement and, for 23 years, the Cleveland School of Music. Over the years she has been actively involved in chamber music, and played with the Cleveland Institute of Music String Quartet and the Cleveland Ensemble.

Ms Carmen vividly recalls her first time on stage at Severance Hall: "I was excited, thrilled and nervous." Accepting responsibility with her two female colleagues, she continued breaking ground in this male-dominated field."We understood the importance of playing the best we could, looking our best, and behaving in the best possible manner to earn the respect of the men around us. I think it's a great compliment that women musicians are now a natural part of the Orchestra membership."

Muriel has enjoyed touring the world with The Cleveland Orchestra, particularly the Soviet Union in 1965, but always enjoyed coming home. "I love Cleveland," she says. "Everything is here, the Orchestra, museums, and theater." She is also grateful for the support of her extended family, which includes her brother Elmer, his wife Ruth and their sons, and longtime family friend Sheena Callaway. In addition her nephew Fred (former mayor of Mayfield Village), his wife Karen, and their two children provide Muriel with much family activity. Her nephew Eric, a musician, has composed pop hits such as "All By Myself" and "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again." Those songs are based on Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto."

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Eric, for what it's worth.... I actually knew about your Aunt Muriel way back in 1984. I was editing a music magazine at the time, and I made a call one afternoon to a media relations director at Telarc Records and somehow mentioned you in the conversation (probably the Cleveland connection). He started telling me about Muriel, in very appreciative terms; I remember that he was familiar with and impressed by her musicianship and professionalism.

So from that call, I knew the calibre of musician she was, and that she had at least one friend/fan at Telarc -- and probably many more -- and that she was a highly regarded musician. And I thought, That makes sense, given Eric's appreciation and training in classical music. And my Telarc connection actually gave me her phone number so I could call and set up that first interview with you (regarding the release of your Geffen album). That was so long ago....

Anyway, today must have been a tough day. Hang in there.



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Dear Eric,

I am not going to offer up any platitudes, I am only going to express to you that I deeply sympathize with feeling/experiencing the loss of someone who means the world to you. Until the time comes when *only you know* when you are ready to once again move forward in the journey of life; may it bring you some comfort by feeling the outpouring of compassion from everyone who loves you and patiently awaits for you to rejoin this long and winding road!

My Sincere Condolences,

*Vera* pray

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Aunt Muriel's playing and teaching career was amazingly extensive. And she also taught science!

What an incredibly intelligent, cultured and versatile lady! Truly special indeed. It would seem that your life mirrors hers in very large measure!

Thanks so very much for sharing the Fanfare article with us. The more that is revealed to me about Aunt Muriel, the sadder I am that I never met her. She's a shining star who will always watch over you.

smile --Darlene

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This story was in today's Cleveland Plain Dealer. I knew my aunt was one of the first three women in The Cleveland Orchestra, but I didn't realize George Szell "inherited" the first two when he became conductor in 1946.

My Aunt Muriel was the FIRST WOMAN HE ACTUALLY HIRED, and that was in 1951, five years into his tenure!


She was quite a gal. heartpump

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I had read long ago that Muriel Carmen was the first woman hired by George Szell when he came to the Cleveland Orchestra. 1951, when Szell hired Aunt Muriel, was the year I had decided, out of a clear blue sky at the age of 4, that I wanted to play the violin. It was a very good year.

From what I've read, Toscanini had nothing on George Szell when it came to high standards and complete persnicketyness and pickiness in choosing "perfect" musicians. That Aunt Muriel won a post after auditioning for him speaks volumes about what an absolutely amazing violist she was. That she got along well with him and liked him speaks volumes about what an completely amazing *person* she was! What a lady!

And thanks so much for linking to the story in the Plain Dealer.

smile --Darlene

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