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Siegmund Nissel, who died on Wednesday aged 86, was the second violinist of the Amadeus Quartet, the most important and successful postwar British string quartet, but in no sense could he be said to have played second fiddle; Nissel was very much his own man in a quartet of musical equals.He was invariably the practical one, negotiating fees, dealing with the taxman and making the logistical arrangements to get the four men and their instruments to the right venue in the right country at the right time.But their families' loss was the music world's gain.Wherever they went – Europe, America, Russia or even farther – they were fêted by critics and audiences alike.Word soon spread through north London and beyond that this was something special.
The Quartet has participated in summer festivals such as Aspen, the Edinburgh Festival and the Kuhmo Festival in Finland among many others.
His mother died when he was nine and he was taken by his father to live in Vienna, where his teachers included Max Weissgärber.
Father and son were touring Germany in 1936 and saw some of the Olympic events in Berlin.
With Schidlof and Brainin he was drawn into the cultivated émigré world of wartime London, studying at first with Carl Flesch and later with Max Rostal who refused to accept payment. As the Amadeus consolidated their position as the leading British quartet of their time, Nissel emerged as their spokesman.
It was he who would liaise with promoters, concert organisers and agents, and it was he who was often the arbitrator between his hot-tempered colleagues.
The Amadeus Quartet was formed by three Austrian-Jewish refugees – Norbert Brainin (violin), Peter Schidlof (viola) and Nissel – and a British-Jewish cellist, Martin Lovett.