Victor ORLOFF [c.1912-1959] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Victor ORLOFF [c.1912-1959]

c.1912-01-01 (Year, Month, Day are approximate)
Birthplace (country): 
Cause of death: 
Other reference:

Mr Orloff's life was summarised in newspapers after he was found dead with wrist injuries at home in Flat 516, the United Apartments, Great George Street, Causeway Bay (now Island Beverley Centre): 

The 46/47-year-old violinist was from Belarus (part of Russia when he was born) but stateless [Wah Kiu].

He came to Hong Kong from Shanghai in 1939, first employed by Lido Night Club, Repulse Bay [SCMP]. His performances were listed on SCMP from time to time. 

In '香港音樂的前世今生', Mr Oliver Chou (周光蓁, music historian and author at SCMP) said Mr Orloff joined the Hongkong Light Orchestra (香港輕音樂團) as concertmaster in November, 1948. This was decided by Sepetember, 1948 (Page 4, South China Morning Post, 1948-09-02), when J. F. Gray was leaving Hong Kong. It stated Mr Orloff was 'well-known in ZBW circles'. 

Upon his death, Orloff was the band leader of the Majestic Night Club, North Point [SCMP]. But the Chinese papers only noted that he was a musician there: Wah Kiu being more specific, saying that he played the piano, other instruments at times.

This is presumably his grave, and he is mentioned in

Would anyone know more about his life, especially before he came to Hong Kong? 


Photos that show this person



Victor Orloff taught me to play the violin till I was about 12 or 13. He was a good looking, blond-haired man, and I had heard that the ladies found him very appealing. He was a good music teacher, but I was a lousy student, alas. I was already living in Sydney in 1959 when I heard over the Russian grapevine that he had committed suicide in Hong Kong. I do recall that in the late 1940s I went to his rooms in Kowloon for my violin lessons. He did play a number of musical instruments and had jobs playing different instruments with different orchestras. We were all sad to hear of his passing.

Victor played with my father on certain occasion but I'm not sure if he was a member of my father's orchestra. Although he arrived in HK in 1939, I don't have any photos of Victor and my father pre-war. However he was in a few photos post-war.

This one was taken at the HK Hotel - my father standing by the piano, Victor with the violin and A Krassoff who played the cello. If anyone knows Krassoff's first name, I would be so grateful if you could tell me. He is in so many photos with my father's orchestra and I can't find his first name anywhere. 

dad orloff.jpg
dad orloff.jpg, by Nona

Another photo taken at the HK Hotel showing my father, Victor (with a sax) and my aunt (the singer), Evgeniya (Janet) Nozadze, who had the stage name of Janet Node.

HK Hotel 1947.jpg
HK Hotel 1947.jpg, by Nona

And this photo was taken from a program which my father kept, Victor playing at the Earl Haig Fund Concert in 1948.

V Orloff Earl Haig Fund Concert.jpg
V Orloff Earl Haig Fund Concert.jpg, by Nona


This report appeared on page 8 of the Hong Kong Sunday Herald, 1950-04-02:

Popular violinist

Mr. Victor Orloff, well-known local violinist, is giving a recital at the Chinese YMCA, Kowloon, on April 19. He will be assisted by Miss Wong Kuk-ying at the piano.

Mr. Orloff is regarded by music circles here as one of the Colony’s leading virtuosos, and his concerts have evoked considerable comment.

He would not be in Hong Kong but for the outbreak of the Soviet Revolution and the escape of his parents to Harbin. He was born in Russia in 1913.

He liked playing the violin from early youth. His father wished him to learn the piano, but he insisted on the violin because. It is a much more tender instrument.

"I am able to express much more on the violin than on the piano,” Mr. Orloff tells me. “You
play the piano with your fingers, but you play the violin with your heart.”

Mr. Orloff studied under Professor Scheferbint when the family migrated to Shanghai. The Professor taught him the first lesson of the violinist — that only patience, a keen car and infinite regard for tone will produce beautiful music.

Ho came to Hong Kong in 1940 and intends to apply for naturalisation.

Mr. Orloff teaches violin for a living, and is content to make do with a few pupils who really love the instrument and arc not learning how to play it because their parents want them to.

He regards violin music as the loveliest ever written, and naturally thinks Paganini - apart from the legend of his exceptionally long fingers - the greatest violinist who ever lived.

Mr. Orloff does not possess a Stradivarius, which is sometimes auctioned at Christie's for as high as £80,000, but an instrument by Galiano, another Italian of high craftsmanship.

The April 19 concert will mark his first public appearance this year. Mr. Orloff says that its financial success or failure will determine the number of his subsequent appearances.

He feels that Hong Kong is not very interested in the violin, simply because — like the human voice—it requires an accompaniment for the best effect.

Victor Orloff was my violin teacher for a couple of years in the late 1940s. He was then living in Kowloon, and I would go to his flat for my lessons. Years later, I was sad to hear of his passing when I was then living in Sydney, Australia. The news of his death was quickly passed around the Russian circles in Sydney, so he must have been pretty widely known in that community. Many Russians in Australia had come through Hong Kong at some point in their journey South, and he was certainly well respected within the Russian community in Hong Kong. He was a very warm human being, and he was a most patient and encouraging teacher. I only wish that I had been a better student of the violin!

There is an ad of the Cafe Wiseman in the Sunday Herald of 3rd November 1940 with a special announcement in which they proudly announced to have recently engaged "The Victor Quartette" which will render music with Dance Music and violin solos. I wonder if this was one of Victor Orloff's early forays into public performance in HK

Source: Hong Kong Sunday Herald, page 11, 3rd November 1940

It certainly sounds like it was Victor Orloff's group as I don't think there were other Victors playing the violin in HK at that time laugh