Leonard Morris Taylor
1957 - 1992
Leonard Taylor, violinist and violist, started study in music at an early age, raised in the well-known musical family of Morris and Elaine Myers Taylor. Although active as a performing musician, Elaine made her role as mother the priority in her life. She nurtured her four children both spiritually and musically, sparing no effort to be the best parent and teacher possible.
That dedication, with support and assistance from their father, created an atmosphere in the home where the children's musical gifts flourished. By the time Leonard was eight he was practicing for an hour each on a string instrument and the piano each day, and then practicing with his siblings in a string quartet for a third hour.
For several years, beginning in 1965, the precocious playing of the children and the excellence of their work as a string quartet stunned audiences and music critics alike. The Palo Alto Times described the response to the Taylor String Quartet, following a performance of the family for the annual conference of the Music Teachers' Association of California in 1971: "When 300 music teachers rise to give a performing group a standing ovation, the players can be sure they have received quite a tribute."
The quartet toured in the U.S., Europe, Poland, and Russia, playing in famous venues, at over fifty colleges and universities, and on national radio and TV in Great Britain, Sweden, and Norway to great acclaim. In 1975, while on tour in Europe with the New England Youth Ensemble, the quartet was invited at the last minute and without prior notice to play for a banquet in Poland being held during a visit by President Gerald Ford with the Polish Premier. Even though they did not have their music, they and a NEYE harpist performed for two hours from memory during the meal and were each thanked personally at the end of the meal by Ford.
In the late 1970s Elaine took a three-week tour with her children, traveling as The Taylor String Quartet, from California to Texas, to Mexico, and then to Washington, D.C. At the University of Monterey, the audience responded to their concert with a prolonged standing ovation, shouts of bravo, and a cascade of flowers on the stage. This would be the last tour the group made with their mother, who died in a car accident in 1978.
A year later, Leonard graduated from Andrews University with a B.Mus. degree. Just prior to his death in Orlando, Florida, in March 1992 he had been working as an office assistant in a music store and residing in Buchanan, Michigan.
Sources: Obituary, Andrews University Focus, January 1992; Life Sketch for Muriel Elaine Taylor by Grady Smoot, AU President, 1978; Atlantic Union Gleaner, 11 December 1973; 4, 5; personal knowledge.