Victor Steinhardt, pianist, composer, and beloved teacher, passed away peacefully at home on July 30, 2021, in Eugene, Oregon. He was born on March 10, 1943 in Los Angeles, California. His parents, Mischa and Pearl Steinhardt, were music lovers who encouraged Victor to begin piano lessons at age seven. Victor studied with Salome Ramras, Aube Tzerko and Rosina Lhevinne. At age ten, he launched his composition career by creating “Hot Air on the G String,” inspired by Bach’s Air on the G String and the novelty piece The Hot Canary. Victor made his debut as concerto soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at age fifteen. He studied composition with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Henri Lazarof and earned an M.A. in Composition at UCLA, which led to the creation of many works for chamber ensembles and for solo piano. Victor's style reflects diverse aspects of his personality, both serious and playful, as heard in Eighteen Pieces in the Form of a Limerick, Ein Heldenboogie, Tango, Running Blue, and Arietta.
From 1968 to 2007 Victor was a professor of piano at the University of Oregon. He performed often as a soloist with the Eugene Symphony, Oregon Mozart Players, Oregon Festival of American Music, and he co-founded Chamber Music Amici and The Pacifica Trio. A featured artist at the Oregon Bach Festival, Oregon Coast Music Festival, Ernst Bloch Music Festival, Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming, the Mohawk Trail Concerts in Massachusetts, the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival in California, Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Oregon, and Bargemusic in Brooklyn, Victor performed chamber music throughout the United States, Taiwan, Germany and the Czech Republic. He collaborated with cellists Leonard Rose, Jules Eskin and Ron Leonard; violinists Arnold Steinhardt, Ida Kavafian, Josef Suk and Pamela Frank; violist Michael Tree; clarinetists David Shifrin and Michael Anderson; flutist Ransom Wilson; and the Penderecki, Peterson, Angeles, LaFayette, and Guarneri string quartets. His recordings include Chamber Works by Jon Deak (CRI); David Schiff’s Scenes from Adolescence (Delos); An American Sampler (Olympic), Songs of Bartók and Kodály (Vox-Turnabout); and a disc of his own compositions, Sonata Boogie (Town Hall Records). With his brother, violinist/violist Arnold Steinhardt, he recorded music of Robert Fuchs (Biddulf) and American Journey (Naxos).
Victor Steinhardt was beloved by family, friends and colleagues for his humility, empathy, diplomacy, originality, and sense of fun. Despite the increasing challenges of his long illness, in the last days of his life the punster gene inherited from his father resurfaced. Hearing from his brother that composer John Cage was also an expert on fungi, Victor quipped, “I didn’t realize Cage was such a fun guy!” Victor Steinhardt is survived by his wife Betsy, brother Arnold, sister-in-law Dorothea, niece Natasha, nephew Alexej, and dachshunds Andy and Rafa. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be offered to Pete Moore Hospice, Eugene, and Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon.