Life Story for
Dad's Eulogy (Otto Feld)
My father was born in Budapest, Hungary on October 19, 1930. When he was about five years old, while cleaning the attic he found his passion for music. There he found a very small violin. His mother Elsa, found him a teacher and he gave his first recital at age nine. Growing up was difficult for him and his family. The Nazis occupied Hungary in 1944. There, he and his mother and grandmother experienced life in the ghetto and were only able to escape with the help of his Aunt Lilly. She smuggled them food and passports and risked her life to get them out.
Chamber music was his first love. He was privileged to study with Leo Weiner and Zoltan Kodaly at the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary. He earned his doctorate degree, receiving the first ever awarded duo degree in chamber music and solo performance. It was an incredible honor.
After the war, he was drafted into the Hungarian military where he proved himself a sharpshooter. My father, not wanting a career in the military began to purposefully miss targets to avoid sniper school. Another story my dad told about his military experience is the time that his commander told the platoon to make it up a very tall hill by any means necessary. The award was a week’s leave to the first team to make it up. While the rest of the platoon marched and trudged, my father and his team chipped in for a taxi and made it to the top first!
In 1956 he and the original Feld Quartet attempted to escape during the Hungarian Revolution. They could take nothing but their instruments and the clothes on their back. Heart breakingly the cellist, because of the size of his instrument had to remain behind. They were received by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra as the first refugees to perform on its stage.
He immigrated to the United States with the Feld Quartet around 1957 (sponsored by Crown Zellerbach). A year later he was able to arrange freedom for mother and grandmother.
He opened a music school in San Bernardino, California with the help of the Sun Times newspaper, where he taught violin and chamber music. He formed the Feld Sinfonieta with local talent and toured southern California for many years before excepting the position of Professor of Music at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.
Otto came to San Diego as Assistant Concertmaster for the San Diego Symphony in 1968 with his wife, Lynn, and was followed one year later by two colleagues from Ball State - Glenn and Rebecca Campbell, who, along with his wife, became the Feld String Quartet. His career as a professional musician spanned over sixty years and we are very proud to say he was a celebrity in classical music.
My father often shared his wisdom with my brother Andy and me, and there were many stories to tell. He had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. His humor often was dry, and he loved the reaction he would get from one of his “stupid” jokes. He loved animals, particularly cats, dogs and birds. We had a parakeet named Bela and he and my mother told stories of how Dad and Bela would fight over the noodles in chicken soup. More Often the bird would win.
He was a great teacher, having taught violin to students ranging from three-year olds to senior citizens. His interests were not just with music. He also loved cars, electronics and bakeries. He would often just like to walk around a city and go into every bakery he could find and come home with arm loads of fresh breads and cakes.
We love you Dad. Andy, Mom and I miss you. Thank you for your love.
In lieu of flowers donations in memory of Otto Feld ז״ל can be made to:
S.O.S. Program (Serving Older Holocaust Survivors)
Jewish Family Service of San Diego
8804 Balboa Avenue
San Diego, CA 92123
The Humane Society of San Diego