Martin George Friedmann – violinist, violist, teacher, world traveler, eternal optimist, and adored husband, father, “Opa,” father-in-law, and friend – passed away Feb.18, age 89, in his Seattle home.
He leaves his wife of 62 years, Laila Storch; his daughter, Aloysia Friedmann and her husband Jon “Jackie” Kimura Parker; his granddaughter, Sophia Parker, his niece Manuela Friedmann and her mother Waltraut Friedmann, sister-in-law Leonie Sandercock, relatives, and friends. He was preceded in death by his brother, John Friedmann, in 2017.
Martin was born in Vienna on March 7, 1929, the son of Robert Friedmann and Susi Martinz. He emigrated with his parents and his brother John to America in 1940. After violin studies at The Juilliard School, he returned to Austria to attend the Vienna Academy of Music, where he met and fell in love with oboist Laila Storch. They were married in Rome in 1957.
Martin and Laila settled in Seattle, WA, where Martin became the Director of the Music Department at the Cornish School, and later joined the first violin section of the Seattle Symphony.
Martin’s love of chamber music and of teaching violin was an integral part of a career that touched countless musicians. He embraced every musical opportunity that came his way, and his warm personality and European musical pedigree were once recognized in unusual fashion when as a string quartet member in a Folger’s coffee commercial he was the only player assigned a vocal part: “Ahhh!”
Martin’s wanderlust and cultural curiosity began in 1954 when, with $400 and his violin, he spent over a year visiting Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, India (where he taught at the Woodstock School), Nepal (where he performed for the King of Nepal), Malaysia, Indonesia, Kenya, Nairobi (where he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro!), Uganda, Egypt, and Greece. Years later he visited New Guinea, Bhutan, Australia, China and Tibet, and also brought his family to Bali, Spain, Austria, Botswana, the Caribbean, and India. His passion for diverse cultures and musical traditions was contagious, and he was renowned for attracting good weather, always finding a parking spot, and for his distinctive laugh.
Martin had a special love for Orcas Island. Initially staying at Indralaya with his family in the 70s, he eventually purchased a house in Obstruction Pass and took an active part in designing its expansion. He and Laila enjoyed nature and hiked often on the island. Martin delighted in giving Sophie viola lessons during summers there, and with her, he enjoyed his second childhood!
Together they performed in and supported the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival, founded by Aloysia in 1998. A special highlight was “Around the World with Martin Friedmann” in which he regaled the community with tales of his world travels and performed on his sitar.
In recent years Martin struggled with constant pain as a result of many significant surgeries, but his positive spirit was an inspiration to all. He enjoyed being on top of the news and was often found sitting at his laptop, with his signature glasses dangling from his mouth, catching up on the stock market.
A memorial service is being planned for a future date on Orcas. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival at www.oicmf.org.