Mr. Si-Hon Ma

  • Born: April 3, 1925
  • Died: September 12, 2009
  • Location: Wesley Hills, New York

Tribute & Message From The Family

The violinist and teacher, Ma Si-hon, Died Saturday, September 12, in a nursing home in suburban Philadelphia. He had been in failing health for some time. Mr. Ma was the president of the Si-Yo Music Society which presented an annual series of chamber music concerts in New York from 1971-2004. The first concerts, with the participation of his wife, the pianist Tung Kwong-Kwong, who survives him, were performed in the Chinese School in Chinatown. Because of their popularity they soon transferred to the Schimmel Auditorium of nearby Pace University. Eventually the concerts were moved to Merkin Hall near Lincoln Center. Some of the musicians who collaborated with Mr. and Mrs. Ma in the Si-Yo Concerts were Stanley Drucker, the solo clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic, Benita Valente, Soprano of the Metropolitan Opera, Jerry Grossman, the solo Cellist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Raphael Hillyer, violist of Boston Symphony Orchestra and many many more. Mr. Ma owned and performed on the Joachim Stradivarius violin, which is thought to be the instrument Joseph Joachim played when he give the first performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto.
Ma Si-Hon was born near Canton, China, on April 3 1925 and came to this country from China in 1948. He enrolled at the New England Conservatory, where he studies with Richard Burgin, receiving a Masters degree in 1950 and the Artists Diploma in 1952. In 1951, he became the first violinist to receive the Heifetz Award at Tanglewood. In the 50’s he played in the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell, later leaving to join Tung Kwong-Kwong for several years of touring and performing in Europe, appearing at the Salzburg and Dartington Festivals, among many others. They continued to tour in the 1960s and 1970s in America under Columbia Artists Management. The Mas made several tours of the Far East, performing and teaching both in Taiwan and Mainland China as well as Hong Kong and Bangkok.
In 1958, he invented a new mute for stringed instruments which is placed behind the bridge and does not have to be removed when not in use, a great improvement over the older standard mute. It was given the name “The Si-Hon Mute”
From 1971 to 1994, Ma Si-hon was a professor of music at Kent State University in Ohio. During that period he maintained his performing career and also continued to teach in New York City.
In addition to his wife, Ma SI-hon is survived by two sisters and many nieces and nephews.

Condolence & Memory Journal


Forever grateful to the kindness and thoughtfulness shown towards me and the good violin tutelage received while at KSU. Your memory lives on

Posted by Siew Chin Hew - student   January 10, 2013

Dear folks,

While an undergrad at Kent, Mr. Ma agreed to teach me how to play the violin. Over time I became increasingly aware of his amazing aaccomplishments, despite his limited eyesight. He was always so kind and humble. Once he gave me a black basket because he thought my family could use it to harvest our melon crop; that was 27 years ago. I still have that basket!

Beth Snode Zbasnik, Kent '87

Posted by Beth Zbasnik - Minerva, OH - violin student   October 26, 2010

All day today, I have found my mind returning to being a little girl when you and Si-Hon and your mother were a part of my life. In part, this is because I am taking a Chinese painting class and it was Si-Hon who taught me to hold a brush and to repeat and repeat to make it perfect. I decided to look for him on the internet tonight and learned of his death.
I was very young, but my heart knew that Si-Hon was the finest human being I had ever known and I wanted to be like him in any way I could. I have carried that love like a compass all my life. Heaven has a beautiful soul come home. All my care and sympathy to you. Love, Karen

Posted by Karen Brown Horvat - Cleveland Heights, OH   September 29, 2009

Dear Mrs. Ma,
I am so sorry about Mr. Ma's passing. I had fond memories of Mr. Ma at Kent. He was always very kind to me. I was so happy to see him at the Rockland Concerts. With Love,
Sylvia Rubin

Posted by Sylvia Rubin - Ramsey, NJ   September 27, 2009

Dear Kwong Kwong, I have only the fondest memories of Sihon, of playing with him or just being in his company; learning from him that one can be free of animosity, vain ambition, self centeredness and anxiety -- and still have high artistic and pedagogical goals requiring all ones energies. I cant think of a more ethical person in my life. I will keep you both in my heart for as long as it still beats. The trees are falling all around. With much affection and gratitude , Philipp N.

Posted by Philipp Naegele - Northampton, MA   September 17, 2009

With deep sympathy and love, With I could be there with you. Love, Good Siwter

Posted by Esther Pei=yu Wang Chuow {Good sister}& family - Cambridge, Mass   September 17, 2009

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