Sample Obituary, Shelly Kurland


Shelly Kurland died suddenly on January 6, 2010, at the age of 81. He was a Nashville musician, but an unusual one being a Julliard trained violinist with a masters degree in music. He began his career at Cornell University before moving to Nashville in 1964. Initially he taught at Peabody College, now a part of Vanderbilt University. Before long, he was doing session and television work with Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, George Jones, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and scores of others.  Although a gifted musician, he was also a visionary, and with the Nashville music scene changing in the 60’s, he saw an opportunity to organize local string players into a collective to perform live and on recordings.  His group, the Shelly Kurland Strings, was instrumental in establishing the world famous Nashville Sound and won numerous “Super Picker Awards,” given each year to the musicians who played on the most number one albums.

Shelly was born and raised in Brooklyn by his parents, Samuel and Beatrice, and for a short time by his Uncle Julius. Shelly always said he spent his childhood going to violin lessons, while wishing he were outside playing stickball.

After his retirement, Shelly spent his time traveling with his wife Barbara and doting on his children Amy, Wendy and Peter; their spouses Kelly Collom, Mark Zimbicki and Shannon Wood; and his grandchildren Peter and Zoey Zimbicki, Julian and Ben Kurland and Stephanie Herron. He was an early and generous investor in his children’s endeavors including The Bluebird Café, Darkhorse Theater and Homework Hotline. He also added to the lives of Maureen Franklin, Hilarie Moore and Elina Sorakunnas, among many others. He is also survived by his sister Elaine (Murray) Koren of New York City.

Shelly moved his family to London for eight months, took the entire clan to the beach every summer, and made more trips to Disney World than he cared to remember.  It can be truthfully said that the Kurlands never ran out of occasions for family dinners and Shelly never passed up the opportunity to pick up the check.

Shelly was also known for his exceptional sense of humor. For instance, in his book An Adult Guide to the Orchestra he began the chapter on the string instruments:
“The most important thing in a string player’s life is where he sits. First chair outside is the star. Last chair inside is pathetic.” Wherever he is, Shelly is first chair today.

Visitation with the family will be at the home of Peter Kurland on Saturday between 1 and 3 pm. Persons wishing to commemorate Shelly’s life are encouraged to make a contribution to Homework Hotline, 4805 Park Avenue, Nashville 37209.