Feb 26, 1920 - Sept. 10, 2012
Mathew Tworek, a much-admired violinist and former associate concertmaster for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, died Monday of a heart condition at age 92.
Mr. Tworek of Cheektowaga was the last survivor of the BPO musicians who performed at the opening of Kleinhans Music Hall on Oct. 12, 1940.
Although his 60-year career as a musician was interrupted by his combat service in the Army during World War II, including the Battle at Anzio in Italy, he took his violin with him into the war zone.
The Buffalo-born musician's career spanned everything from his beloved classical music to contemporary commercial genres and the continental and Viennese violin pieces he loved to play for his many audiences through the years, including Jascha Heifetz, who was regarded as one of the most influential violinists of the 20th century.
Mr. Tworek studied at the Eastman School of Music and joined the BPO at a very young age.
Gracing the BPO stage for more than 50 years with both a mustache and an energetic playing style that captured audience interest without taking away from the ensemble performances of the orchestra, Mr. Tworek was associate concertmaster under conductor William Steinberg.
Mr. Tworek was a first violinist under conductors Franco Autori, Josef Krips, Lukas Foss, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Julius Rudel, Smeyon Bychkov and Maximiano Valdes.
"Matty" to his many friends, he served as the original concertmaster for Buffalo's ARS Nova ensemble and was concertmaster for the Cheektowaga Symphony, the Niagara Falls Symphony and the St. Catharines, Ont., and Erie, Pa., philharmonics.
He was a violinist for pop legends Judy Garland, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Liberace, Frank Sinatra and John Denver when they performed at North Tonawanda's Melody Fair Theater.
He performed with the WBEN Orchestra, which played live as part of the station's programming atop the old Statler Hilton where he also was a regular performer in its Rendezvous Room.
Several years ago, Mr. Tworek recalled that one Sunday afternoon in February 1947, during a BPO intermission, he was called into the dressing room of maestro William Steinberg.
"Oh boy, everybody was chiming in as if I was in really big trouble," he recalled. "Even I was a little scared when I entered his room. But the maestro smiled and said he just wanted me to know that he and his dinner guest had really enjoyed my fiddle playing the previous night. That guest was Jascha Heifetz."
A violin teacher for decades, Tworek in his 80s enjoyed performing with his coloratura soprano daughter Adrienne Tworek-Gryta at concerts featuring Viennese and Polish repertoire and later with his soprano granddaughter Emily Tworek-Helenbrook.
He particularly championed the music of Polish composers throughout his career and performed many programs for the Chromatic Club of Buffalo, the Canisius College Polish Chair, the Polish Arts Club, the Dante Alighieri Club, WBFO Radio, the Lancaster Opera House and Buffalo's Friends of Vienna organization.
Survivors include his two daughters, Adrienne Tworek-Gryta and Marisa Tworek-Helenbrook.
Mr. Tworek was buried Sept. 12 alongside his beloved wife, Eleanor Firlik Tworek, who died in 1990.
A memorial service is planned for the near future.