Dutch musicians are mourning the loss of Theo Olof, joint concertmaster with Hermann Krebbers in The Hague and later, under Bernard Haitink, at the Concertgebouw.
Olof, who was Jewish, fled with his parents from Nazi Germany to neutral Holland. He made his solo debut at the Concertgebouw at the age of 11, with Bruno Walter conducting. After spending the war years in hiding, he took fourth place in the 1951 Queen Elisabeth competition in Brussels – the highest ever achieved by a Dutch violinist – and decided to spend the rest of his working life at the front of an orchestra.
Like his friend Krebbers, he was a tremendous soloist who would step in whenever a concerto slot fell vacant. Bruno Maderna wrote a concerto for him, while several duo works were dedicated jointly to the co-concertmasters. New conductors stepping in front of the Concertgebouw orchestra were warned not to get into a tangle with its powerful, tone-setting frontmen.
Away from the orchestra, Olof was among the founders of Hilversum 4, the classical radio station and head teacher at the Royal Conservatorium in The Hague. He died on October 9, aged 88.