Remembering Philipp Naegele


Philipp Naegele, one of the first young musicians to participate at the Marlboro Music School and Festival in Vermont when it was founded sixty years ago, and an active member of that community to the present, died at his home in Northhampton, MA on Sunday, after a brief illness,  at 83.

While Marlboro Music officially came into existence in 1951, founded by three notable musical families—Busch, Serkin, and Moyse—there was a prenatal summer in 1950 when Naegele, a graduate student in musicology at Princeton, was among twelve young musicians who came to study with Adolf and Herman Busch, Rudolf Serkin, and Marcel, Louis, and Blanche Moyse. Upon viewing the isolated and basic setting of Marlboro College, which had recently been founded on the grounds of a former dairy farm, half of the students that summer turned right around and left. But for Naegele, the chance to study with his idol Adolf Busch—a noted soloist, conductor, and chamber music artist in his native Europe—was a dream come true. For most of the succeeding six decades, Naegele was active at Marlboro as violinist, violist, as a member of the audition and planning committee, and, in recent years, as translator of a collection of vocal texts performed there.

Philipp naegele

Philipp Otto Naegele

Philipp Otto Naegele was born in Stuttgart in January 1928, the youngest son of the well-known painter Reinhold Naegele, his mother a physician. Fleeing the Hitler regime, Naegele first traveled to England in 1939 with the “Kindertransport,” and then, in 1940, he and his family settled in New York City. There, Naegele studied violin privately and attended the High School of Music and Art, Queens College, and finally completed a doctorate in musicology at Princeton University.  As a Fulbright Scholar, Naegele attended the Vienna Academy of Music for an additional year of study with Franz Samohyl.

From 1956 to 1964 he was a violinist with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell, and for 36 years he served as Professor of Violin at Smith College. Performing countless concerts in various chamber music ensembles—such as Musicians from Marlboro, the Cantilena Piano Quartet, and the Vegh String Quartet—and taking part in many recordings made here and abroad, he was William R. Kenan Professor of Music Emeritus, Smith College, as well as an active teacher at Amherst College and elsewhere.

He is survived by his wife Barbara Wright, his son cellist Matthias Naegele and daughter-in-law Els van Oldenburgh of Utrecht, The Netherlands, his daughter Olivia Naegele, two grandchildren and his brother artist and illustrator Thomas F. Naegele.

Philipp Naegele’s translation of the Franz von Schober poem An Die Musik (1817), that appears on his website – – reflects his love and life devoted to music.


Thou gracious art, in many a gray hour,
When life’s wild swirl held me ensnared,
Hast thou enflamed my heart to ardent love,
Hast borne me off into a better world!

Oft has a sigh, outflowing from thine harp,
One dulcet, sacred consonance from thee,
Unlocked for me the heav’n of better times,
Thou gracious art, I give thee thanks for this!