Violinist’s disappearance, death puzzles police

Posted by Tom Tugend

A memorial service is being planned for Robert Korda, a longtime violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, whose apparent disappearance puzzled his family, police and most of Los Angeles for four days, until his body was discovered at the coroner’s office.
Korda also played as a guest violinist with the Israel Philharmonic during its 1986 American tour and was the leader of the Monseigneur Strings, a top society dance orchestra that performed for eight presidents and was founded by his late brother, Murray Korda.
According to his son Noah, Robert Korda left his Van Nuys home on July 8 in the afternoon heading for the Gower Studios in Hollywood, where he was scheduled to work that evening.
When the 68-year old Korda did not return home, his frantic family phoned police, hospitals and Korda’s cell phone provider, without success.
The following day, Noah Korda blogged an appeal for help to find his father, which spread rapidly through the Internet and was picked up by the general media.
Four days later, on July 12, officials at the Los Angeles County coroner’s office revealed that Korda’s body had been in their custody all along, but had been overlooked by investigators because his name had been entered into the system as “Robert Norda.”
A coroner’s spokesman said that Korda had been found unresponsive around 7 p.m. on July 8 at a home in Glendale, was rushed to a hospital and pronounced dead an hour later.
Apparently Korda died of natural causes, but police officers are continuing their investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death, police spokeswoman Jane Guzman said Tuesday (7/14).
In a phone interview, Venida Korda, Robert Korda’s former wife, said Tuesday that the violinist had played with the L.A. Philharmonic from 1960 – 1980. Afterwards, he became a freelance musician, playing with various orchestras and chamber music groups.
His longtime friend and colleague, cellist Pete Snyder, described Korda to the Los Angeles Times as a talented and dedicated musician, with a beautiful sound, an exceptional improviser, and possessing a great sense of humor.
Mrs. Korda said that her former husband of 26 years, who did not remarry after their divorce 10 years ago, frequently played his violin in San Fernando synagogues and that the family attended services at Adat Ari El and Temple B’nai Hayim.
The family flew to Israel 25 years ago to celebrate the bar mitzvah of Noah, now 38, in Beersheba. Mrs. Korda recalled that she handmade tallitot for Noah, and for the b’nai mitzvah of his younger siblings, Aaron and Sarah.
Mrs. Korda said that she, like the police, was unable at this time to explain the circumstances of Robert Korda’s death and why the family had not been notified immediately.
As of Tuesday, funeral services are pending in Vermont and a memorial service in Los Angeles.
Korda served on the board of directors of The Music Guild, and the family requests that any donations in his memory be addressed to The Music Guild, 6022 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 203, Los Angeles, CA 90036.