American violinist Robert Mann, a founding member of the Juilliard String Quartet, has died aged 97.

Born in Portland, Oregon, Mann took up the violin aged nine, and began to study with Portland Symphony concertmaster Edouard Hurlimann at the age of 13.

Aged 18, he moved to New York to enroll in the Juilliard School. He won the Naumburg Competition in 1941, making his New York debut later that year.

Following army service in World War II, he was invited by Juilliard president William Schuman to form the Juilliard String Quartet in 1946 with violinist Robert Koff, violist Raphael Hillyer and cellist Arthur Winograd. Mann retired from the quartet in 1997, having been its first violinist for more than five decades.

Mann taught at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music, and mentored members of the Cleveland, Emerson, Tokyo, Brentano and St Lawrence quartets. From 2012 he presented the Robert Mann String Quartet Institute.

As a conductor he led ensembles such as the New York Chamber Symphony, MSM Symphony, and groups at the Ravinia, Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals.

Mann was also active as a composer; his written oeuvre included more than 30 works for narrator, a string quartet and a Concerto for Orchestra.

He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in April 1996.

The Juilliard String Quartet issued a statement paying tribute to its former member: ‘Through his passionate artistry and teaching, he inspired generations and touched us all. It is hard to find the words to do justice to the life of Mr. Mann. We in the quartet will always remember him.’