Deutsche Grammophon and HMV fought for the right to record their sublime sound, which was performed with a delicate, not to say delicious, hint of a Viennese lilt that betrayed their ancestry. On occasions Brainin or Lovett would storm out of rehearsal threatening never to work with the other again; once Nissel broke his bow on a music stand in anger.When travelling they always sat separately on planes.Since its inception in 1992, the Brentano String Quartet (Mark Steinberg, violin – Serena Canin, violin – Misha Amory, viola – Nina Lee, cello) has appeared throughout the world to popular and critical acclaim.Within a few years of its formation, the Quartet garnered the first Cleveland Quartet Award and the Naumburg Chamber Music Award; and in 1996 the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center invited them to be the inaugural members of Chamber Music Society Two, a program which was to become a coveted distinction for chamber groups and individuals.With Schidlof and Brainin he was drawn into the cultivated émigré world of wartime London, studying at first with Carl Flesch and later with Max Rostal who refused to accept payment. As the Amadeus consolidated their position as the leading British quartet of their time, Nissel emerged as their spokesman.It was he who would liaise with promoters, concert organisers and agents, and it was he who was often the arbitrator between his hot-tempered colleagues.
Their first concert as the Amadeus was at the Wigmore Hall on January 10 1948, underwritten by Imogen Holst. It was Nissel who had proposed the name Amadeus, overcoming fears that the quartet would forever be associated with Mozart.
At their height the Amadeus were on the road for eight months of the year, travelling by day, performing by night.
Such was the pressure of their schedule that Nissel did not see his daughter until she was four months old.
Siegmund Nissel, who died on Wednesday aged 86, was the second violinist of the Amadeus Quartet, the most important and successful postwar British string quartet, but in no sense could he be said to have played second fiddle; Nissel was very much his own man in a quartet of musical equals.
He was invariably the practical one, negotiating fees, dealing with the taxman and making the logistical arrangements to get the four men and their instruments to the right venue in the right country at the right time.