In Memoriam: Ray Marsh

Violist Raymond Marsh passed away on June 26th at the age of 89. He was a beloved member of the Pittsburgh Symphony for 48 of those years, retiring in 2007. Here are a few personal tributes from his PSO colleagues:

Ray Marsh
Raymond Marsh
1933-2020

I met Ray on my first day of work with the PSO at the end of August 1981. The Ray I met that day was without fail the same Ray I experienced for the next 26 years – a person who was friendly, supportive, always positive, possessing a great sense of humor, a firm musical conviction and a strong and compassionate sense of right and wrong.

For us “newbies” in the orchestra, Ray represented the earlier generation of violists in the PSO having been hired by William Steinberg in 1959. He was a veteran of the 1964 State Department tour which lasted 11 weeks and took the orchestra to concert venues throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Ray was an Army veteran who served during the Korean War. Following the war, he attended the Juilliard School and had the great distinction of being one of the first viola students of the iconic William Primrose.

For all of Ray’s strengths, he was a gentle and humble man who treated everyone with respect.

Ray and I would see each other after all of our Heinz Hall concerts as we had adjoining lockers in the men’s dressing room.

I will always remember Ray as a wonderful, kind colleague who would offer me a helping of Planter’s Peanuts that he always seemed to have at the ready……

Rest In Peace, Ray….

Paul Silver

Ray was a dear friend and colleague, a true gentleman with a good heart and a wonderful sense of humor. I really admired how positive and enthusiastic he was when he would go on stage and perform. It was nice to see how much he was passionate about music. He enjoyed the good things in life especially food and being in company of people. We could always find Ray by the food at receptions and having extensive conversation with friends, patrons and colleagues. I will always cherish the memories and good laughs we shared over sushi lunches.

You are missed Ray!

Marylène

Ray was always a fantastic colleague. An energizing presence, I could always count on a smile if I looked his way, or a joke or two when I spoke to him. His kindness extended to the whole orchestra and those who worked in Heinz Hall as ushers and managers. Every Valentine’s Day, Ray would buy large boxes of chocolates for the women of the orchestra! We also share the same birthdate, which we also share with J.S. Bach, which I think, gave us a unique link. RIP Ray Marsh

Tatjana Mead-Chamis

When I joined the PSO viola section in 1981, Ray Marsh was one of the first of my new colleagues to welcome me. We quickly became friends. Ray was a wonderful man who was friendly and helpful, and always had a smile on his face. In those days, the more seasoned members of the orchestra were generally a little slower to accept newer, younger members into their social circles. But not Ray. He was always ready to chat, grab a bite to eat, or discuss a fingering for a tricky passage. He told me amazing stories about the incredible State Department tour of 1964, which lasted an unheard of 3 months, and remembered in great detail facts and anecdotes about other tours, conductors, and colleagues.

I enjoyed sitting with Ray because while we did our jobs in a professional manner, we always had a lot of fun. Even though he cared a great deal about the PSO, at the same time he understood that it was best not to take oneself too seriously; a valuable lesson for his younger colleague. And did I mention that every year on Valentine’s Day, Ray would knock on the door to the Ladies Locker room and deliver a large box of candy with card attached?

Ray Marsh was many things: he was a patriot, serving his country in Korea for 3 years as a member of the US Army’s 82nd Airborne, he was a family man, and he served for 48 years as a valuable example to his many colleagues in the PSO. But most of all, Ray Marsh was a gentleman. Rest in peace Ray.

Cynthia Busch
PSO violist 1981-2018