She was born in Medicine Lodge, Kansas.
Career and education
Dorothy attended and graduated from Neodesha High School, where her father was the superintendent at the age of 14. In addition to teaching at Juilliard, she taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music, the New England Conservatory, the Meadowmount School of Music and the Aspen Music Festival and School, among others. She began at Juilliard as a teaching assistant to the well-known violin teacher Ivan Galamian, but later established her own violin studio. DeLay studied at the Oberlin Conservatory with Raymond Cerf and transferred to Michigan State University, where she received her B.A. She went on to earn an Artist Diploma from Juilliard Graduate School.
She was also the founder of the Stuyvesant Trio (1939–42).
In addition to many honorary degrees, Miss DeLay received the National Medal of Arts in 1994, the National Music Council's American Eagle Award in 1995, the Sanford Medal from Yale University in 1997 and the Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Japanese Government in 1998.
Her former students include many noted violinists of the late 20th century. She assisted Galamian with Itzhak Perlman. She also taught Anne Akiko Meyers, Albert Stern, Midori Goto, Akiko Suwanai, Sarah Chang, Philippe Quint, Kurt Sassmannshaus, Gong-Qian Yang, Cho-Liang Lin, Chin Kim, Shunsuke Sato, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Angèle Dubeau, Pierre Ménard, Dmitri Berlinsky, Nigel Kennedy, Alyssa Park, Yoon Kwon, Misha Keylin, Shlomo Mintz, Gil Shaham, Dezso and Tibor Vaghy (of the Vaghy String Quartet), Fudeko Takahashi, Vilhelmas Čepinskis, Brian Lewis, and Li Chuan Yun among others. She also taught many significant orchestral musicians and pedagogues, such as Simon Fischer, author of Basics, Paul Kantor, pedagogue at Rice University, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Robert Chen, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (also doubling in the Seattle Symphony) concertmaster Frank Almond, Philadelphia Orchestra Concertmaster David Kim, Liu Yang, among others.
In a 1992 interview, Salerno-Sonnenberg said: "I think the greatest things about Dorothy DeLay is that she has the ability to look at a young student or an old student and pretty much size up their character and the way that they think — their personality, basically — and how in a short period of time what's the best door to use to get them into here. And that's her method — the fact that there is really no method."
Itzhak Perlman said of DeLay's pedagogic approach: "I would come and play for her, and if something was not quite right, it wasn't like she was going to kill me. She would ask questions about what you thought of particular phrases -- where the top of the phrase was, and so on. We would have a very friendly, interesting discussion about 'Why do you think it should sound like this?' and 'What do you think of that?' I was not quite used to this way of approaching things."
DeLay's students have gone forward to solo careers, principal orchestra positions with the world's leading orchestras, and have gone on to win many of the major violin competitions of the world.
In 1975, she was recognized by ASTA with their Artist Teacher Award.
In 2003, Itzhak Perlman was appointed to his teacher's position at Juilliard, the Dorothy Richard Starling Chair of Violin Studies. The position was established in 1997 with a leadership grant from the Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation to The Campaign for Juilliard and was held by DeLay until the time of her death in March 2002.
- Kozinn, Allan. "Dorothy DeLay, Teacher of Many of the World's Leading Violinists, Dies at 84." New York Times. March 26, 2002.
- Kozinn, New York Times; Van Gelder, Laurence. "Footlights: Honor Bound." New York Times. November 4, 1998.
- Kozin, New York Times.
- Sand, Barbara Lourie. Teaching Genius: Dorothy DeLay and the Making of a Musician. New York, Amadeus Press, 2000. ISBN 1-57467-120-0 --link to publisher's web page
For an in-depth profile of Miss DeLay, see Helen Epstein's book Music Talks, now on Kindle. This is also available as a separate article on Kindle.