Born at Munich, he began to study music at the age of 6, learning from his father, a violinist. In his youth, he toured Europe performing as the violist of the Strub String Quartet. In the mid-1930s he recorded in a chamber group including Florizel von Reuter (violin), Max Strub (violin), Ludwig Hoelscher (cello) (i.e. the second formation of the Strub String Quartet) and Elly Ney (piano). Later, he served as the principal violist in the Berlin Radio Orchestra. He went to the United States in 1939 (withdrawing from the quartet), served in the United States Army during World War II, and then returned to a life of music teaching, performing, and recording. He was a founding member of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and was violist in the Yale Quartet with Broadus Erle and Syoko Aki (violins), and Aldo Parisot (cello).
He was known for his love of music spanning several centuries, from Baroque to 20th century works, even inspiring Luciano Berio to write a piece for him. He made numerous recordings. In addition to performing extensively in Europe and the United states as a soloist and a chamber musician, he also taught many students at Juilliard, New England Conservatory, Yale School of Music (see this), and Boston University.
He died in Port Joli, Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1997.