For several decades, Marian Lewin (she retained her maiden name as her stage name after marrying Harold Kimmel in 1965) has been regarded as the doyenne of South African cellists. She obtained her University of South Africa Performers Licentiate in 1963, and in 1969, attended the International Cello Week in Holland where she appeared on Eurovision and was judged best cellist.
She had a very successful career as orchestral cellist, chamber musician and soloist with amongst others, the SABC, the Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) Philharmonic and PACT Symphony orchestras. She also taught at the University of the Witwatersrand, the Pro-Arte School in Pretoria and at the University of Cape Town.
She was the cellist for the Alma Musica Piano Trio for 34 years and subsequently joined the Rosamunde and Schwietering String Quartets, I Grandi Violoncellisti and the Hermanay Flute Trio. Her music making extended extensively beyond the groups in which she was a permanent member and was for many years, South Africa’s most sought after cello chamber music partner.
Marian’s love for her fellow human beings and her music was as genuine as it was generous. She was loved by all who were touched by her kindness and most beautiful playing. South Africa has lost a great artist whose humility is encapsulated in her final request – she wanted no funeral nor tombstone, but would instead like those with the means to do so, to make a donation to their favourite charity.
She passed away without prolonged suffering just a few days after having been admitted to a care facility close to her home in Sea Point, Cape Town. She leaves behind her beloved husband, Harold, and three sons, Bryan, Warren and Gary.
Written by Dr Peter Martens