Eta Cohen: Best-selling violin tutor dies aged 96

Eta Cohen showing a youngster the finer points of how to play the violin.
Eta Cohen showing a youngster the finer points of how to play the violin.
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Eta Cohen - author of the best-selling teaching manual The Eta Cohen Violin Method - has died.

Miss Cohen, 96, was a charismatic teacher whose books have been influential worldwide. Earlier this year her contribution to string teaching was recognised be a European String Teachers Association lifetime award.

She moved to Leeds following her 1945 marriage to Ephraim Smith, a Leeds-based businessman working in the cloth trade whose parents, like her own, were Jewish immigrants from Lithuania.

Their two daughters, Maureen and Hazel, were born in the city.

Miss Cohen’s tutorial for beginners, published in 1940, was the first of its kind, and has been published in many different languages, and probably has the longest publishing career of any violin method.

In the course of a career spanning over 70 years, she lectured extensively in Australia, the US, the UK and Europe, and published articles about string playing and teaching in leading journals.

James Murphy, director of the Southbank Sinfonia, described her as “the Delia Smith of violin methods...the much-imitated, indispensable original”.

One of four sisters, Miss Cohen was born in Sunderland. After leaving school at 17, she began teaching privately and also in schools, where she became a pioneer of class teaching.

She began to write out each lesson for her students, and this painstaking work became the foundation for the first volume of the Eta Cohen Violin Method published when she was 25.

During the war she moved to Cheltenham and took lessons herself with the distinguished violin teachers Max Rostal and Carl Flesch who became very influential on her thinking.

Three more volumes of the Method followed. The method is now available in a sixth edition, republished in 2012 by Novello. Her husband died in 1989. Miss Cohen is survived by her daughters, two granddaughters and a great-granddaughter.