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Chausow, Leonard

Leonard Chausow, a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s cello section from 1956 until 2003, passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 24. He was 86.

Chausow was one of four musical brothers (his brother Oscar was a member of the CSO’s violin section from 1938 until 1946). Although his parents were not musical, they loved having music in their home. After high school, Chausow joined the Minneapolis Symphony and, while there, served on the faculties of Carleton College and Saint Olaf College. He studied cello with Karl Fruh and Harry Sturm and later with Frank Miller in New York.

After service in the army during the Korean War, Chausow returned to Chicago. In 1956, he was invited by music director Fritz Reiner to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and in 1964 he was promoted by music director Jean Martinon to serve as assistant principal cello. In addition, Chausow served as acting principal cello for two seasons during Sir Georg Solti’s tenure as music director. In 1993, he became assistant principal emeritus and served in that capacity until his retirement in 2003.

Chausow was active as a teacher not only in Minnesota, but also at Roosevelt University in Chicago, and he also taught privately. He regularly coached Civic Orchestra cellists and gave master classes and seminars at universities across the country.

Chausow, Leonard (3)

Also dedicated to chamber music, Chausow performed with the Chadamin Trio, Chicago Symphony String Quartet, and the Chicago Symphony Chamber Players. He was a founding member of the Evanston Chamber Ensemble for sixteen years. Chausow appeared as soloist on Chicago Symphony Orchestra subscription concerts under the baton of Sir Georg Solti, with many local orchestras, and on CSO Youth Concerts.

Chausow is survived by his beloved wife of sixty-three years Miriam (“Mickey”), daughters Lynn Chase and Carol Zens (Tim), and several grandchildren. His daughter Sharon Chausow (Michael Phillips, survived) passed away in 2013.

There will be a memorial service on Tuesday, January 27 at 12:00 noon at the Weinstein Funeral Home in Wilmette. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Endowment Fund.

Upon his retirement in 2003, Chausow reflected on his forty-seven years in the Orchestra: “As a native Chicagoan, spending most of my professional career with this great orchestra has been a dream come true. The opportunity to sit alongside my teacher, the legendary Frank Miller, as his assistant principal cellist was at once personally gratifying and a tremendous learning experience.”

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