Michael Tree (February 19, 1934 – March 30, 2018), born Michael Applebaum, was an American violist.

Michael Tree
Michael Tree.jpg
Background information
Born(1934-02-19)February 19, 1934
OriginNewark, New Jersey, United States
DiedMarch 30, 2018(2018-03-30) (aged 84)
Manhattan, New York, United States


Tree was born in Newark, New Jersey. His principal studies were with Efrem Zimbalist on violin and viola at the Curtis Institute of Music. Zimbalist insisted that Tree change his name from Applebaum to advance his career.[1] Subsequent to his Carnegie Hall recital debut at the age of 20, Tree appeared as violin and viola soloist with major orchestras, including the Philadelphia, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and New Jersey. As a founding member of the Marlboro Trio and the Guarneri Quartet, he played throughout the world and recorded more than 80 chamber music works. Prominent among these were ten piano quintets and quartets with Artur Rubinstein. Tree served on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, Bard College Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music, University of Maryland School of Music and Rutgers University, and regularly performed at the Marlboro Music School and Festival.

Tree played a circa 1750 Domenicus Busan viola from Venice, Italy. He also played violas of the modern Japanese-American luthier Hiroshi Iizuka. During his early years with the Guarneri Quartet, Tree played on a viola made by mid-20th century luthier Harvey Fairbanks of Binghamton, New York.[2]

Michael Tree received an honorary degree from Binghamton University.[3]

Tree's father, Samuel Applebaum, was a nationally known violin pedagogue who wrote many articles and books about music and composed or edited extensive teaching materials.

Tree died of Parkinson's disease at his Manhattan apartment on March 30, 2018, at the age of 84.[4]


Outside of the chamber music recordings with the Guarneri Quartet, Tree recorded:

Beethoven Serenade for Flute, Violin, and Viola with Eugenia and Pinchas Zukerman (on Columbia)
Bolcom "Let Evening Come" with Benite Valente and Cynthia Raim (on Centaur Records)
Brahms Viola Sonatas with Richard Goode (on Nonesuch) [1981]
Brahms Horn Trio with Myron Bloom and Rudolf Serkin (on Sony Classical)
Brahms G major Viola Quintet with Isaac Stern, Cho-Liang Lin, Jaime Laredo, and Yo-Yo Ma
Brahms Sextets (on Sony) with Isaac Stern, Cho-Liang Lin, Jaime Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma, and Sharon Robinson
Mendelssohn Octet with Jaime Laredo, Alexander Schneider, Arnold Steinhardt, John Dalley, Samuel Rhodes, Leslie Parnas, and David Soyer
Mozart Violin and Viola Duos (on Nonesuch) with Violinist Toshiya Eto
Mozart Concertone [hu] (for 2 violins and orchestra) with Jaime Laredo, violin, and Alexander Schneider conducting the Marlboro Festival Orchestra (on Columbia) (here Michael Tree plays violin.)
Schmidt Piano Quintet in G (on Sony Classical) with Leon Fleisher, Joel Smirnoff, Joseph Silverstein and Yo-Yo Ma.


  1. ^ http://keyofstrawberry.com/whats-in-a-name/
  2. ^ Arnold Steinhardt (1998). Indivisible by Four: A String Quartet in Pursuit of Harmony, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0-374-23670-4. p132: "… [Michael] was playing on a brand-new instrument made by a relatively obscure maker, one Harvey Fairbanks from Binghamton, New York."
  3. ^ "Binghamton University – Office of the President: Honorary Degree Recipients". Archived from the original on 19 March 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  4. ^ Smith, Harrison (1 April 2018). "Michael Tree, violist who co-founded the influential Guarneri Quartet, dies at 84". Washington Post. Retrieved 2 April 2018.

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