Gerald Jarvis

Gerald Jarvis. Violinist, b Vancouver, 19 Apr 1930, d Chautauqua, New York, 15 Jan 1996; honorary FRAM 1972. Jarvis studied violin in Vancouver 1935-8 with Frederick Geaves and 1938-48 with Douglas Stewart. He first played with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestrain 1947.

Jarvis, Gerald

Gerald Jarvis. Violinist, b Vancouver, 19 Apr 1930, d Chautauqua, New York, 15 Jan 1996; honorary FRAM 1972. Jarvis studied violin in Vancouver 1935-8 with Frederick Geaves and 1938-48 with Douglas Stewart. He first played with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestrain 1947. In 1948 he was awarded a scholarship to study at the RAM with David Martin. He remained in England for several years, playing first with the Philharmonia Orchestra, and 1952-4 with the Royal Opera House Orchestra under Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir John Barbirolli, Clemens Krauss, and others. In 1954 he went to Brussels to study with Arthur Grumiaux, and the same year was concertmaster with Martha Graham's Dance Company Orchestra on its first European tour.

In 1954 Jarvis returned to Canada to play first violin with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, remaining until 1959. In 1960 he returned to England, as co-principal of the London Symphony Orchestra under Pierre Monteux. During this period he became a founding member of the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields. He was concertmaster 1963-8 of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and joint concertmaster 1969-72 of the London Philharmonic under Bernard Haitink.

In 1973 Jarvis once again returned to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as concertmaster. He held this position for 13 years, working closely with and contributing greatly to the orchestra's success under conductor Kazuyoshi Akiyama. In addition to performing the standard duties of concertmaster, he also appeared frequently as a recitalist and chamber musician. For his vast number of appearances with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Jarvis earned the nickname, 'the face of the VSO.' Rudolf Barshai's decision to dismiss Jarvis in 1986 was one of the more controversial acts of the conductor's brief and troubled term as music director.

In 1986 Jarvis replaced an ailing Steven Staryk as concertmaster for the TS tour of Europe. At Akiyama's invitation, Jarvis became concertmaster in 1987 of the Osaka Philharmonic, of which Akiyama was conductor, and in 1990 took on duties as concertmaster of the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra. In 1990 he began teaching at the Chautauqua Summer Festival in New York, and in 1991 he became a guest professor at the Musashino University of Music in Japan. He returned to Vancouver in May 1990 to perform a concert with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra pianist Linda Lee Thomas. Subsequently he pursued his career in Japan, returning to Chautauqua annually. He gave his last concert in Japan in September 1995, before falling ill with lung cancer. Thomas raised a fund that enabled Jarvis to return to Vancouver and then Chautauqua, where he died. His name has been added to the 'Starwalk at the Orpheum' in Vancouver.

Jarvis was married to the British mezzo-soprano Delia Wallis (b Chelmsford, Eng, 27 Jul 1946, d Fredonia, NY, 15 Sep 2009).


Further Reading

  • Rossiter, Sean. 'The music of one man's life,' Vancouver Sun, 29 Oct 1976

    'Singer and leader a winning combination,' Music, vol 3, Jul-Aug 1980

    Mertens, Susan. 'VSO: Jarvis looks back,' Vancouver Sun, 26 Jul 1986

    Dykk, Lloyd. 'Beloved VSO violinist dead at 65,' Vancouver Sun, 17 Jan 1996