LONDON -- Violinist Norbert Brainin, a founding member of the Amadeus Quartet, has died. He was 82.
Mr. Brainin died in Harrow, north London, of cancer on April 10, said Peter Craik of the Royal Academy of Music.
Born in Vienna, Mr. Brainin did not grow up in a musical family but was inspired to take up the violin at age 6 after hearing a performance by the young Yehudi Menuhin. At 10, Mr. Brainin was admitted to the Vienna Conservatory, where he studied with Riccardo Odnoposoff and later with Rosa Hochmann and Carl Flesch.
With his family, Mr. Brainin fled to England just before World War II. He studied in London with Max Rostal alongside two other Austrian refugees, violinists Siegmund Nissel and Peter Schidlof.
Mr. Brainin won the Carl Flesch prize for solo violinists at London's Guildhall School of Music in 1946.
In 1947, Mr. Brainin, Nissel, and Schidlof, who agreed to play the viola, formed the Brainin Quartet, later to be known as the Amadeus Quartet, with cellist Martin Lovett.
The quartet made its debut performance in January 1948 and quickly gained an international reputation for its affinity with the music of Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Mozart. The group toured the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and South America, and produced several recordings.
''I would go as far to say that a violinist who cannot play the Beethoven quartets -- that is, who hasn't the equipment to play them -- is not a violinist in the fullest possible sense," Mr. Brainin once said.
Mr. Brainin continued to perform as a solo concert violinist. With a reputation as a whimsical performer, he was known to stop midway through a performance to exchange anecdotes and jokes.
The Amadeus Quartet disbanded after Schidlof's death in 1987.
In his later years, Mr. Brainin turned to teaching. He was a professor of chamber music at the Cologne Music Academy in Germany and held a post at the Royal Academy of Music, London.
At the time of his death, Mr. Brainin was involved in setting up the Norbert Brainin Foundation in Asolo, Italy.
He leaves his wife, Katinka; and their daughter, Ann.