“A fiddler’s fiddler” is how violinist Sergiu Luca was described by a reviewer in the Washington Post. This is typical praise for a concert personality who has enjoyed a worldwide career. He combines an unparalleled diversity of repertoire with inspired virtuosity as a soloist with orchestras and in annual recitals at major music centers around the world. A native of Rumania, Mr. Luca made his debut with Israel’s Haifa Symphony at the age of nine. Following his studies in England and Switzerland, he came to the United States to study with the legendary pedagogue Ivan Galamian at the Curtis Institute.
Soon after his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1965, he was chosen by Leonard Bernstein to play the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the New York Philharmonic for a special CBS television network tribute to the Finnish composer. He has subsequently performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras in Europe, Israel, Latin America, and the U.S., including the Cleveland, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Houston, Baltimore, Atlanta, and National Symphony Orchestras and the Israel Philharmonic, New Philharmonia of London, and the Zurich Tonhall Orchestra. Sergiu Luca’s many recordings attest to his sensitivity for varied styles and periods of music. He made a sensation with his recordings of the complete unaccompanied works of J.S. Bach, the first rendering on an original instrument. Subsequent recordings of music by Bartók, Schumann, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Tartini, Janacek, and William Bolcom, as well as orchestral recordings with Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony and David Zinman and the Rochester Philharmonic, gained him inter¬national acclaim. As a recitalist, Sergiu Luca has performed in Europe, Mexico, Japan, and throughout North America.
He has collaborated with such keyboard artists as Emanuel Ax, Albert Fuller, Brian Connelly, Joseph Kalichstein, Peter Serkin, and Malcolm Bilson.
Luca came to Rice's Shepherd School of Music in 1983 and served as the director of the Texas Chamber Orchestra of Houston until 1986. "Sergiu was a pillar among the faculty, a major force within the violin area, a prestigious artist and a considerably gifted teacher," said Robert Yekovich, dean of the Shepherd School. "He had a tried-and-true method he developed that concentrated a great deal of attention on a student. Working with Sergiu meant a significant amount of personal attention, and the time he was willing to put into each student was part of what made him such an outstanding teacher."
In Houston, Luca founded the Da Camera Society to produce a series of thematically programmed concerts designed to attract new listeners to the concert hall. Hailed as his most ambitious and influential project, Da Camera is widely acclaimed for its innovative programming and has established itself as one of America's leading presenters and producers of ensemble music. Along with some friends, he also founded the chamber ensemble Context, which is devoted to the performance of small-ensemble music, both historical and modern, on instruments appropriate for each era.
Prior to coming to Houston, he founded and served as director for Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Ore. He also founded the Cascade Head Music Festival, a monthlong summer festival on the Oregon coast, which he led for more than 20 years. He debuted as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1965 and was subsequently chosen by Leonard Bernstein to play the Sibelius Concerto with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for a CBS television special. Luca has performed with many of the world's leading orchestras in Europe, Latin America and the U.S. and has made many celebrated recordings.
Luca's recording of the complete solo violin works of J.S. Bach -- the first recording made on an original instrument -- created a sensation and established his reputation as a leader of the original-instrument movement, and his performances and master classes inspired a generation of young performers to pursue the study of early music.
A native of Romania, Luca made his debut with Israel's Haifa Symphony at age 9. Luca is survived by his wife, Susan Archibald, and daughter, Lily.