It is with great sadness that we share the news that David Dalton, a leading light of the viola world and one of the founders of the American Viola Society, passed away on December 23, surrounded by friends and family. He meant so much to so many, and we mourn the loss – and celebrate the life – of this giant in the viola world.
David’s impact on the international viola community is immeasurable. His vision and leadership over the last half-century contributed greatly to the growth of both the AVS and IVS (International Viola Society). David’s many significant achievements include establishing (with Franz Zeyringer) the Primrose Viola Archive at Brigham Young University in 1974, and initiating the Primrose International Viola Competition in 1979. As Tom Tatton so eloquently observed in his recent article about the 50 great leaders of the AVS, “…David Dalton, colleague and mentor, artist, author and scholar collected…our very soul by having created with Franz Zeyringer the Primrose International Viola Archive.” Originally known as Primrose Memorial Scholarship Competition, the Primrose Competition at its inception became the very first international viola competition, and it has launched the careers of some of today’s top soloists and orchestral violists. David’s contributions as a scholar include his influential research on the beginnings of the Bartók Viola Concerto, his book Playing the Viola: Conversations with William Primrose (published by Oxford University Press) and numerous articles for various publications, including the Journal of the American Viola Society (JAVS).
David served the American Viola Society faithfully in a variety of significant roles. He joined the AVS board beginning in 1982, then served as editor of the AVS Newsletter (1984-85) and subsequently the JAVS (1985-1999). He was the third president of the AVS (1986-1990), and also served as President of the International Viola Society (1999-2001). He has been honored by the AVS with the AVS Distinguished Service Citation (1985), Maurice Riley Award (1993), and Dwight Pounds Lifetime Service Award (2022). The AVS also established the David Dalton Viola Research Competition in 1999 as a tribute to David’s significant contributions to viola scholarship. The IVS has also honored David with the IVS Silver Clef (1987) and the IVS Gold Clef (2013) awards.
Please enjoy this brief tribute video that was prepared for the presentation for David’s Dwight Pounds Lifetime Service Award in June 2022. A brief retrospective montage is followed by video of the actual award presentation by AVS Past President Michael Palumbo. (Photos courtesy of Dwight Pounds and music performed by Scott Slapin.)