Violinist Lillian Mae Weingarten Mehr has Died, Aged 95
Lillian Mae Weingarten Mehr was born in 1926 to immigrant parents from Budapest, Hungary. She grew up in Sharon, Pennsylvania, and began playing the violin from a young age.
After graduating from Sharon High School In 1943, Mehr completed a home economics degree from Penn State University, where she met Harold Mehr whom she married in 1950.
For years, Lillian Mehr played violin in several ensembles, including the Butler and Youngstown symphonies, and served as Greenville Symphony’s assistant concertmaster. She also wrote on various concerts for her local newspaper in Greenville.
Additionally, she was a part-time substitute teacher at the Reynolds and Greenville public schools. Mehr and her family later moved to Oakland in Pittsburgh, where she became a youth activities assistant with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO).
At the PSO in the 1990s, Mehr was involved in a program introducing students to the orchestra. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at the time, Mehr said the program was very popular, drawing over 44,000 participants a year, to the point where some had to be turned away for future application.
In 2016, to mark her 90th birthday, Mehr donated her violin to the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra (PYSO) instrument fund to aid its musicians. According to PYSO executive director William J. Powers, Mehr’s violin remains part of the fund.
During her later years, Mehr attended Carnegie Mellon University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, where she undertook various subjects.
She participated in tap dancing classes at the institute and even had a poem published as part of a creative writing class. “I think most of the other students were younger than her, but she didn’t let that bother her,” one of her sons, Jeffrey Mehr said.
“She didn’t have time to make playing violin a full time career, so she did it as a hobby throughout her life,” added another of Mehr’s sons, Michael Mehr, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“Everyone needs a Lillian in their life,” tweeted Pittsburgh Post-Gazette food editor Gretchen McKay. “I'm glad I did.”
Our condolences to her family, friends, students, and colleagues.