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Born in Medicine Lodge, Kansas on 31 March 1917, American violin teacher Dorothy DeLay attended Oberlin College, Michigan State University and what was then called the Juilliard Graduate School before beginning a concert career. Her career was interrupted by World War II when her husband, the writer Edward Newhouse - a regular contributor to The New Yorker for thirty years) was transferred to a series of Air Force bases.
Dorothy DeLay's distinguished career as a teacher began at the Juilliard School in 1948. From 1970, she nurtured many of the world's most beloved performers each summer as part of the Aspen Music School. Miss DeLay, as she preferred to be addressed, held masterclasses in Europe, Korea, Israel, Japan, China and South Africa.
She occupied the Starling Chair at the Juilliard School and the Dorothy DeLay Faculty Chair at the Aspen Music School. Among her many honours are the Artist Teacher Award of the American String Teachers Association, the King Solomon Award of the America-Israel Foundation, and honorary doctorates from Oberlin College, Columbia University, Michigan State University, Duquesne University, Brown University and the University of Colorado. She was a Fellow of the Royal College of Music in London, UK. In 1994 she received the US National Medal of Arts, presented by President Clinton at a White House ceremony. In 1995 she received the National Music Council's annual American Eagle Award, and in 1997 she received Yale University's highest award for Distinguished Contributions to Music, the Sanford Medal. For her contributions to Japan's musical culture, Emperor Akihito bestowed on her the Order of the Sacred Treasure.
Described as the world's foremost violin teacher, DeLay's students included Itzhak Perlman, Cho-Liang Lin, Anne Akiko Meyers, Nadia Salerno Sonnenberg, Shlomo Mintz, Nigel Kennedy, Robert McDuffie, Sarah Chang, Mark Kaplan, Rachel Lee, Midori, Gil Shaham and Kyoko Takezawa. Violinists from the Juilliard, Tokyo, Cleveland, American, Takács, Mendelssohn, Blair, Fine Arts and Vermeer String Quartets studied with her, as did concertmasters and leaders of the Berlin Philharmonic, the Philadelphia, the Royal Concertgebouw and Chicago Symphony Orchestras. Her students won first prizes in every major international competition.
DeLay is the subject of a biography by Barbara Lourie Sand, Teaching Genius: Dorothy DeLay and the Making of a Musician, published in 2000.
Dorothy DeLay died on 24 March 2002, aged eighty-four at home in Upper Nyack, New York, USA.