Jane Little, Atlanta Symphony's Longest-Serving Bassist, Dies at 87

By Philip Trapp on May 22, 2016 08:00 PM EDT

Jane Little, record holder as the Atlanta Symphony's longest-serving bassist and Guinness World Records inductee, died last Sunday at 87. The musician collapsed onstage during a performance by the orchestra, playing bass until the very last moments of her life.

As we previously reported, Little was recently inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for holding the longest tenure with a professional orchestra. The bassist had served in the Atlanta Symphony since its inception, starting with the orchestra in 1945 when it was still the Atlanta Youth Orchestra.

Performing last Sunday as usual, the double bassist gave way during the encore -- a rendition of Irving Berlin's "There's No Business Like Show Business." The musician was rushed to a nearby Atlanta hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

An immediate outpouring of remembrance was displayed for the dainty bassist. In a tribute at ArtsATL, her fellow double bassist in the orchestra, Michael Kurth, wrote of Little's final performance that day:

"Jane Little was standing next to me last Sunday when she played her last note. She was doing what she loved, surrounded by people she loved, in a place that was like home to her."

The bassist had played in the orchestra with her late husband, Warren Little, a flutist with the ASO who died in 2002. The two met in the orchestra after Warren joined in 1948. The loving pair often carried each other's instruments.

Ms. Little was already planning on retiring after this season. She was being treated for multiple myeloma and had previously broken her shoulder, pelvis and elbow. She cracked a vertebra last year, telling the Washington Post of her physical mishap:

"It takes so much, to push those metal strings down against the fingerboard." says Little. "When I first started practicing two months ago, I could only practice for two minutes because it hurt so bad."

Below, watch Atlanta's WSB-TV pay tribute to the bassist in a recent news piece.

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TagsJane Little, Atlanta Symphony, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Guinness Book of World Records

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