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Legacy Oral History Online Collection

Thomas Heimberg

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Tom Heimberg (1937-2006) made a career in music as a working musician, teacher, and writer. He was violist and personnel manager for the San Francisco Opera Orchestra for almost 40 years. He also played with the San Francisco Symphony, was violist and personnel manager with the Oakland Symphony in the early 1960s, and president of the Northern California Viola Society.

Heimberg began studying violin (his father was a violinist) at the age of 10, playing in the school orchestra alongside students such as Lincoln Mayorga, Herb Alpert, and Arnold Steinhardt (Guarneri String Quartet) who were destined to become world famous. Later he studied music in Los Angeles at USC and UCLA, and in Paris as a Fulbright scholar. One of his teachers was Gilbert Back.

While playing professionally, he was employed as a viola instructor at San Francisco State University. During that time, he wrote many articles and chapters in books on stringed instruments, musical technique, and on making a living as a musician. A book of some of his essays, Making a Musical Life: The Practice, The Profession, The Joy was published posthumously.

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