Did You Know: There Were No Fewer Than Five Members of the de Pasquale Family in the Philadelphia Orchestra at One Time?

During the mid-1960s, four brothers not only played in the same orchestra, but formed a long-standing string quartet as well

By Robert Markow | From the May-June 2024 issue of Strings Magazine

During the mid-1960s, four brothers from the de Pasquale family—William, Robert, Joseph, and Francis—not only played in the same orchestra, but formed a long-standing string quartet as well. In addition to performing and touring, the quartet appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Today Show with Barbara Walters, and in Time magazine. A 20-minute documentary made in the mid-1960s can be viewed on YouTube (The Music Men).


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Francis, the cellist, was the first to join the orchestra, in 1943. Violinist William’s title varied from associate concertmaster to co-concertmaster to second concertmaster to acting concertmaster, depending on the season; he arrived in 1962. Two years later, conductor Eugene Ormandy arranged for the two remaining brothers, violist Joseph and violinist Robert, to join as well. The de Pasquales, unsurprisingly, came from a musical family. Father Oreste, too, was a violinist, born in Cosenza, Italy.

Keeping things in the family, one notes that William joined the orchestra concurrently with his violinist wife, Barbara (who retained her professional name of Sorlien). They eventually divorced, whereupon William subsequently found both his second wife (Julia, a violinist) and his third (Gloria, a cellist) within the ranks of the orchestra. Still more de Pasquales!