Adolph Baller

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Adolph Baller (July 30, 1909 – January 23, 1994) was an Austrian-American pianist who played classical and romantic music. He performed with Yehudi Menuhin for several years, toured internationally for decades with the Alma Trio, and was a renowned piano teacher at Stanford and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Early years[edit]

Baller was born July 30, 1909, in Brody, Galicia and Lodomeria, Cisleithania, Austria-Hungary (now Ukraine). At age 8, he went to Vienna to study piano with a former student of Franz Liszt. When he was 13 he gave his first solo performance, with the Vienna Philharmonic, following it with performances in all major European capitals.[1]

In March 1938, Nazi soldiers learned that he was a pianist and a Jew, and arrested him, beat him and crushed his hands. Baller's fiancée, Edith Strauss-Neustadt, interceded on his behalf with the Polish Consul in Vienna and helped to restore his hands through a long treatment so that he could resume his career. The couple escaped to Budapest, where they were married before coming to the United States in 1938.[2]


While Baller worked as a pianist for the WQXR radio station in New York City, he met violinist Yehudi Menuhin and cellist Gabor Rejto.[3] Beginning in 1941, the Ballers lived with their daughter, Nina, at Menuhin's Alma Estate in Los Gatos, California.[4]

For several years Baller accompanied Menuhin in performances throughout the world and performed in chamber concerts, being particularly active during World War II with performances for troops deployed overseas.[5][6]

Under Yehudi Menuhin's patronage, Baller, Gabor Rejto and Roman Totenberg formed the Alma Trio in 1942–1943 at Menuhin's Alma estate in Los Gatos, California.[7] Violinist Maurice Wilk joined the Alma Trio after Totenberg retired. Following Wilk's sudden death in 1963, violinist Andor Toth joined the Alma Trio and remained their violinist for the next 15 years, before the trio winded down their touring in the mid-1980s.

Later years[edit]

Baller served as a faculty member at Stanford University for over 30 years. Among his most notable students were pianists Jerome Rose, William Corbett Jones, Xenia Boodberg Lee[8] and Nohema Fernández.[9]

In 1984, the Music Guild at Stanford created an endowment fund in his honor, providing scholarship assistance to piano students at Stanford.[1]

He died at his home in Palo Alto on January 23, 1994, aged 84.[3]


  1. ^ a b "Pianist Adolph Baller dies at 84". Stanford University News Service. 25 January 1994. Archived from the original on 6 June 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  2. ^ Smith, Kendra (7 November 1997). "Remembering Adolph Baller the way he'd want--with music". Palo Alto Online. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Adolph Baller; Pianist". The New York Times. 28 January 1994. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  4. ^ Manuel, Diane (5 November 1997). "Piano recital by Adolph Baller students scheduled for Nov. 12". Stanford University News Service. Archived from the original on 20 November 2021. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  5. ^ Menuhin, Yehudi (1977). Unfinished Journey. Knopf. p. 154. ISBN 9780394410517.
  6. ^ "Portrait of Yehudi Menuhin with pianist Adolph Baller, performing in the Aleutian Islands, 1944. Black and white photograph. - Royal Academy of Music". Archived from the original on 2019-10-23. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  7. ^ Cornfield, Giveon (2013-01-18). Note-Perfect: Thirty Years in Classical Music Recordings. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781479777983.
  8. ^ "Piano Recital" The San Francisco Examiner (May 2, 1969): 33. via
  9. ^ The Grove Dictionary of American Music. OUP USA. January 2013. ISBN 978-0-19-531428-1.