July 7, 2011 / 2:46 PM / 8 years ago

Czech violinist Josef Suk dies at 81

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech violinist Josef Suk, the great-grandson of composer Antonin Dvorak, died late on Wednesday at the age of 81 after a lengthy illness, program advisor at the Prague Spring festival told Reuters.

Suk was popular in the United States and in Canada as well as Japan and Europe, and worked with a number of major orchestras around the globe.

The award-winning concert violinist, born in Prague in 1929, specialized in chamber music and founded the Suk Trio in 1951, named after his grandfather, and the Suk Chamber Orchestra in 1974.

He played precious instruments such as those built by Antonio Stradivari, Giuseppe Guarneri and Giovanni Battista Guadagnini.

“He was the best interpreter of Dvorak’s violin concert and his chamber compositions...and he also won acclaim for his Mozart and Beethoven creations,” said Prague Spring’s Antonin Matzner.

“His tone was distinctive among all violinists around the world and he maintained it into old age,” he said.

His first trip to the United States in the early 1950s was at the invitation of George Szell, music director of the Cleveland Orchestra.

Suk earned numerous awards, including the Grand Prix de l’Academie Charles Cros of Paris, which he won six times, the Edison Prize in Netherlands in 1972, and the Wiener Floetenuhr from Vienna’s Mozart Society in 1974.

Reporting by Jana Mlcochova and Roman Gazdik, editing by Paul Casciato

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