Very sorry to hear of Dan's passing. Many fond memories of spending time at Smith's cabin in Idyllwild, CA shooting BB guns at soda cans on the rocks and many different hikes. Prayers are with the family.
Took my breath away to hear we've lost Dan. Just found out yesterday from his friend in Berlin Ernestine. Out of touch, I had no idea he was ill. I don't remember how it was he came to be in Berlin around 1978, but he got a 1 year contract as associate principal for a year in my orchestra and we became colleagues, friends and pals! I was an inexperienced principal and I relished Dan's insights and quietude, except when it came to legendary musicians or insufferable conductors. Anecdote: in those days in Berlin, the Music Director of the "Symphonisches Orchester BerlIn" (SOB- Dan loved that abbreviation) was a authoritarian maestro of the old school. Sometimes it was a matter of life and death to survive the martinet demeanor of T. Bloomfield. There was an issue with bowings, which Bloomfield dictated. I protested a bowing and Bloomfield roared, "Mr. Nordstrom, that bowing was tried and proved in Cleveland!" To which I replied, "But we're not in Cleveland Mr. Bloomfield!" And from the front desk of cello I heard Dan, "Yeah and it wasn't proven in L.A. either!" Dan loved these skirmishes and it usually led to a beer or a cognac and some commisurating. I heard Dan's aplomb on the cello with great admiration, took his advice which he offered sparingly, but he preferred to stay out of the limelight. Why? Such a talent, I don't understand. Not lucky to come up with another position in Germany after his stint in Berlin he headed back to L.A. But I'll always remember his reverence for the great "Russian" artists, from Heifetz to Horowitz and his mentor Piatiagorsky. "Did you hear that? Can you believe that?" I talked to him last time summer 2005 when I was playing in Boulder, CO. I , we reminiscensed, le temps perdu. It nice to see the photos and his trademark long hair. I am honored to have known you. My respects. Randy
I have just now read in the Union paper of Dan's passing. We were dear friends and played Faure Piano Quartet as well as Brahms and various other works. Dan's artistry and depth are still an inspiration to me. I have kept a special place in my heart for him always and was so happy to know that he did well in Los Angeles all these years. We always laughed that we shared the same birth date and celebrated this coincidence, as I recall. Our coaches in the groups included Dan Lewis and Gabor Rejto. I am so grateful to have known and played with Dan.
I knew Dan for over 30 years. He was the cellist in The Tsunami Quartet of which I was a member. Rehearsing with him was a treat. He played like no other. He made me want to practice all the more. He set the standard with his easy facility and musicianship. We: Brian Leonard, Cynthia Morrow, Dan and me, recorded both Borodin Quartets which was magical. He also loved to just play chamber music with friends and animals. Besides his musical talent, he had a big heart and a dry wit. I will miss all of that. I do feel a better person for having him as a friend in my life!!!
I was Dan's neighbor for the past 18 years. I discovered about his musicianship in the most natural way - I lived right under him and heard him practice all the time. So, once I met him in the yard and asked why he chose to use legato on the upbeat in a movement from Bach's suite. He was surprised - he didn't know I was a musician, too - though, not a cellist, but a composer. When he started explaining about his phrasing and mentioned Piatigorsky, I invited him to listen to Piatigorsky's recording of his Paganini variations (1947). We became friends and he often came to listen to the archive recordings which I have collected. I must say that he was the only person capable of identifying quite a number of historic figures upon audition - like Auer, Joachim or Sarasate (after I effectively cleaned their recordings with software). Amazingly, he also could distinguish by ear between Bohemian, Belgian, Polish etc. schools - quite a feat, considering that they all have been dead at least since the 1960's. Dan's interests went far beyond cello. Once he regretted that Scriabin did not have anything for cello. I gave him a CD of cello works by Roslavets and Dan really liked Sonata no.2. He was constantly looking for rare cello music - like Knipper. or Shaporin. Dan was a real friend. Last year, when I was putting out a DVD with animation on my music which was supposed to have a subtitles line, like in an opera video, I had difficulties condensing the story line in good English. Dan turned out to be a real expert in English. Despite my requests for him to take it easy, he edited the whole album for me in just a couple days - despite failing health! (he started noticeably going down since 2009). Very rarely did he ask for anything, until his last month, where he became weak and was sadly restricted in his motion, and needed a lot of help. I cannot stop thinking what a huge loss it is. Dan should have been where somebody like Yo Yo Ma is - but alas! There are tons of Ma's recordings all over, and there is not a single record of Dan's mastery (as far as I know). We had many talks about wasting his talent on holding "potato-notes" for Ice Cube to the metronome click - instead of playing Schumann or Brahms, and how unhealthy it is for a musician of Dan's caliber. By 2007 Dan started finally leaning towards shifting his career in a more artistic direction. But this proved to be sadly too late. His hands became impacted in 2008-2009 and eventually he was forced to stop practicing. What a pity! Dan was a remarkable human being, and his passing is surely a loss to everyone. He was a great friend, and a pleasure to spend time with. I cannot stop thinking how tragic it is that Dan thought he had his whole future ahead of him, whereas he was quickly running out of time. His passing is a great loss to all of us, and to the world of music.
Like many of Dan’s friends I’ve spoken to in the past days, I’m left with twin miseries: the pain of Dan’s death itself, and the realization that I hadn’t seen him for a long time indeed. Dan was among my most treasured and longstanding friends. From the time I met in him in the summer of 1972 I’d been in awe of his comprehensive musical taste and mastery of the instrument, to be sure--but beyond that, I was taken with his character and the depth and breadth of his intellectual interests. At the time, I think I must have seemed impossibly odd to him, newly rearrived in LA from my undeniably exotic days at UC Santa Cruz, my Merry Prankster-colored Chevy van and rampant Jewfro stunningly out of place at the Music Academy of the West and at USC. But our many shared musical obsessions--great modern players such as Heifetz, Piatigorsky and Horowitz (when Horowitz gave a pair of recitals at Ambassador Auditorium in '75, we were the third and fourth in the pre-dawn ticket queue), historical performers such as Furtwängler and Chaliapin, lieder, and so on--seemed sufficient to cement our friendship. We were both then in Gabor Rejto's studio, I billeted down in the primordial ooze with the other cello microorganisms, Dan one of Rejto's stars. The first thing I heard him play was the third movement of the Kodály Sonata during a master class. The memory is vivid nearly 40 years later. For several years we drove together to our regular symphony gig in Ventura, where I got to sit on the first stand with him, and then I really got to know him. He was by then in Mr. Piatigorsky's master class, and regaled me with keenly-observed tales of the proceedings. During Mr. Piatigorsky's last year (1975-76) I too had joined the class thanks to the request of my teacher, Larry Lesser. Dan, John Koenig, (and often Ola Karlsson) and I were always getting together outside of class to play for one another, listen to choice recordings, and solve the world situation (something Dan had a leg up on, given his extensive readings in global economy; his grasp of this and kindred subjects was breathtaking). I realize that many of Dan’s friends never heard him play in concert. I remember each of the too-few times I heard him, from his senior and master’s recitals at USC to treasured performances of Schumann Concerto. That paucity of concerts constituted an ongoing dispute, with me ever agitating for him to play recitals, Dan demurring with closely considered (but for me, bogus) reasons against. After all--and any of my string colleagues will back me up here: when it came to string craft, the business of dispatching the most preposterously note-saturated licks with gleeful panache, there really was no one else to touch him. Such stuff was, however, merely the entry point to who Dan was as a musician. He was at his best, for me, in serious repertoire: Schumann, Walton, Brahms Double, Beethoven sonatas. That he could eat Grützmacher and Piatti for breakfast was for show, party tricks, something to leaven the mood during a session. His playing of the meat of our repertoire was deeply thoughtful and and emotionally compelling. “Deeply thoughtful and emotionally compelling”--not a bad epitaph, though it doesn’t begin to sum up Dan. But of course, it’s far too soon to be summing up the life of someone who meant so much to so many of us.
Thinking of you today, Dan, and how I will miss your kind and gentle presence, your insights into life and our conversations on the state of the world. You predicted the sub-prime crisis years before it actually hit the fan! Besides being one of the most intelligent, sensitive, idealistic and humble men that I knew, you were an amazing cellist and musician who had the utmost respect for your colleagues. Rest in peace, Dan. I hope you and Larry are together someplace, playing your cellos that you loved so much and laughing until your shoulders shake.
DAN was second chair in the Congress of Strings in 1969 and I was its last chair at 14 years-old. Even then DAN had an honest, forthright and regal bearing. He looked like a very handsome bear and played with exceptional authority and with power. It was obvious to anyone who took the time to look that DAN was an extraordinarily kind man and a gentleman, to boot. The years have flooded by since 1969, and we are are quite a bit more grey, and hopefully that much more wiser.
I always enjoyed playing with Dan. He was a large man and produced a sublime cello sound. He always played with great sensitivity and love. Goodbye, my friend. I haven't seen you very often since my retirement. But I always thought that I'd see you, again. I love you, man.
What I remember the most about Dan is the look of mischief in his eye whenever we had contact. I could always count on having fun with him, no matter what. Danny, I hope you and Larry are playing heavenly cello duets in perfect harmony and balance like you did here on earth, but without the encumbrances. I miss you, and we were all graced by you.
Dan, Brian Leonard, Chris Reutinger and I played together for years as part of Tsunami Quartet. On the night before Chris and I had to put down our beloved dog Reef, Dan came out to Malibu and played "Art of the Fugue" all night for him. Dan was one of Reef's favorite people, and that dog sat at his feet listening to him play Bach for hours. He was a wonderful, amazing cellist, musician, and dear friend.
Dan was one of a kind and I will miss him greatly. He was generous of spirit, thoughtful, and perceptive. Not only were his musical abilities stellar, both technically and artistically, but he truly loved music and the cello. His ability to hear transcended the cello. He had the rare ability to really listen to his friends, and make people feel as though they were being heard and understood. He knew how to be honest and direct, yet was always kind and met differing opinions with respect. Dan was a natural born teacher, and I learned so much from him. It was impossible to be around Dan, and not come away a little better.
I first met Dan in the Piatigorsky master class, where he was a star. But Dan was very down to earth and never put on airs. He was very serious about the cello, but he was also always ready to have fun, too. He was a pal. As a cellist, he was extremely analytical and always seemed to have reasoned out solutions for problems his colleagues in the class (often me) encountered that they were having problems solving themselves. And his solutions worked because he was so smart and understood so much. Dan was always giving. A very generous colleague. When Dan and I used to run into each other over the last few years, we'd have long, long talks. And it was as if we were still those kids from 30 years earlier. Dan was a wonderful gifted artist, but he didn't need to put on the pose of the "the great man." He just was. Automatically. He didn't have anything to prove. And if someone didn't understand from his understated personality that they were in with someone great, it was their loss. But I'm convinced that just about everyone who ever heard him play had to realize that they were privileged to be in the presence of someone special.
I was really saddened to hear the news about Dan's passing. He always seemed like a gentle but strong person and always with a smile on his face. I know he will be really missed by friends and colleagues.
I am so saddened by Dan's passing. He was a true friend who was always there for me. Many hours of cards, ping pong and laughter. I feel truly blessed to have met him and been a part of his life for 33 years. He enriched so many people with his gentle and sometimes, yes, feisty humor. May he be in peace and know how much he is loved.
It was my great pleasure to know and work with Dan for over 20 yrs. His musicianship was extraordinary as well as his " jaw dropping" bow technique (down bow or up bow staccato). How many times I marveled at his technique is lost to me because it happened too often. The last time I sat with him was during the movie "UP" where he nicely pointed out (he was always a gentleman and carried himself with such class) that the cellos were playing a rhythm wrong and then preceded to play it correctly. He led the cellos and it was magnificent !!!. Dan didn't cut loose too often at work but when he did, no one could touch him. It is very sad to lose such a good person and a great artist who should have been traveling the world's stages.
Dan's warm presence is on my best recordings. His beautifully sensitive playing and generous spirit which affected everyone in the room, and in turn affected the level of artistry we were all able to achieve. Music starts in the spirit, in a thought or a feeling of emotion which then shapes your sound and affects the sounds produced by your colleagues. What Dan brought to my sessions was always beautiful and heartfelt and I will miss him greatly. It has been an honor to share that place with him in song. My hearltfelt condolences to Dan's close personal friends and family.
I am very saddened by the news of Dan. He was a masterful cellist for whom I had great respect. He was one of my favorite stand partners through the years who was kind and fun to be around. He truly loved the art and as an example, when we were playing different sections of the Schumann Concerto and Strauss Sonata, his insights changed my approach. One of my last phone conversations with him involved more efficient ways to play the Popper Hungarian Rhapsody and his important observations about the world. He will be missed.
I am so sad. Dan was one of the kindest people I have ever known. He never had a bad word to say about anyone. He was always supportive, and he was an amazing cellist. He was brilliant - he was so knowledgeable about art & music - and about the sciences and world affairs. And he had the greatest up-bow and down-bow staccato I have ever seen! Larry Corbett and he were two of my favorite people, and now they are both gone. If there is a heaven (and I hope there is), I hope the two of them are having a great time together, playing some cello duets and drinking some single-malt scotch!
I first met Dan at USC. He was the most talented and handsome man I had ever seen! I never got my nerve to say hello until seeing him at record dates for Janice Gower and later Bill Henderson. When I spoke with him I felt like I was the only person in the universe. He was always intelligent, suave, warm and present. I am so sorry to loose such a quality human being; a wonderful professional, friend and colleague. I went to Uan Rasey's tribute tonight and it was amazing. I feel so blessed to be in our business and have associations with so many special people. Dan was certainly one of them along with Larry.
Dan - I can't believe it. You're gone, one of the world's true gentlemen, as well as masters of the instrument. Your quiet, unassuming ways, always with beautiful and generous words for others put you at the top of humanity, let alone the cello. May you and Larry again share many a stand in that great studio in the sky. And may much peace and happiness escort you.
I always looked forward to seeing and working with Dan. He was a kind, gentle soul who played with integrity and love. He always greeted me with a smile....not many words but always warmth. I am so sad at his passing.
I met Dan in 1976 while he was studying with Gregor Piatagorsky,we worked together from then on. I am terribly saddened to hear this news of such a kind and great talent leaving so suddenly,I did not know he was ill. 16 years we played together on the Star Trek tv shows..what a kind and talented man he was..R.I.P. Dan....
Wow what a shock! I knew he was sick but had no idea the seriousness ... he was a great man, beautiful musician with a wonderful sense of humor. We had so much fun working together...I will miss him deeply. Auf Wiedersehen Herr Dan...
Dan was a giant: as a musician, a cellist, a philosopher: super talented, super smart, generous with an incredible sense of humor... He and Larry were so close and sadly even more so now.... I miss him immensely. We share the cello stand in the pit for Beauty and the Beast and Ragtime at the Schubert Theater but also other studios. I always loved his integrity, sharpness, sarcasm. Dan, we love you and miss you. I am so sorry you left way too soon! Hey, you promised me that one day you would teach me how to do you amazing staccato!!! Now what??? Rest in peace, dear one!
So sorry to hear about Dan,s passing. I know I must have done hundreds of recording sessions with him. He was a wonderful guy and his musical talent will speak forever. RIP Dan, you will be missed.
Fond memories of Dan being a stand partner on Star Trek sessions in the '90s. Farewell...
I'm honored to have met Dan at one of the L.A. Cello Society's events. I'm saddened to hear of his passing. You will be missed by many cellists, RIP Dan.
Dan and Larry, two immensely talented cellists...I remember how sweet they were as they joked around to make me feel comfortable in some sessions. Dan was a gentle giant too, just like his predecessor and teacher, Mr. Piatigorsky. They all helped to make the world a better place.
I am so sorry to hear of Dan Smith's passing. He was known in this town as a masterful cellist. He also was a very kind individual who contributed good things to the world during his life. With Heartfelt Symphathy, Francesca Bori