Lars Fredell, "the world's greatest audiophile," dead at 58
The Swedish-born Lars Fredell, who once told me that he aimed to be "the world's greatest audiophile," and probably was, died of an apparent heart attack on Friday, June 28, shortly after leaving a plane at Westchester County Airport. Medical personnel were unable to revive him. Lars was 58.
The incident bears an uncanny resemblance to the sudden death of Harvey Rosenberg last year. Harvey, too, collapsed and died following a flight. Harvey was 59.
Lars was my close friend and listening pal for nearly 15 years. He showed up on my doorstep one sunny Saturday morning, unannounced, a total stranger, bearing a fistful of "well wire." Contractors had recently replaced the wire that ran from his house to the pump inside his well, and Lars had discovered that this solid-core cable made excellent speaker wire. He had some left over and invited me to try it.
It turned out that Lars lived only a few miles away, and over the years we became fast friends, as did our wives, Wendy and Marina. Lars was best man at our wedding.
As Lars' fame as an audiophile grew, he himself became a reviewer—first for Fi, then for Ultimate Audio magazine. He also wrote for a Swedish hi-fi publication. He achieved such fame as an audiophile that all he had to do was walk into a room and say, "Hi. I'm Lars." His first name was enough.
Early on—before Lars emerged as a reviewer in his own right—people would often ask me if Lars were real. They thought I had invented Lars and his slightly skewed English. I did not. His utterances were so popular with readers that I kept a note pad so I wouldn't lose anything. (Lars once caught me jotting things down.) A sample:
Mario (another friend): When are you taking your vacation, Lars?
Lars: In Yoon.
Mario: Yoon? When's that?
ST: You know, Mario. It's the month before Yuly.
Or this exchange:
Lars: I like the way you write about people in your column.
ST: Oh, really?
Lars: Yes, you capture their fweebles.
ST: You know, Mario, foibles.
Lars' English was almost perfect—but much to everyone's delight, not quite. Those who knew and loved Lars realize that he wouldn't mind our having a few more laughs during this time of great loss.
"Go ahead, tease me," he once said. "I can take it. I'm Swedish."
In "real life," Lars was a vice president of Combe, Incorporated, a White Plains, NY cosmetic firm, where he spent almost his entire professional career.
Lars leaves behind his wife of 33 years, Wendy. (They met while she was a student abroad in Sweden.) Also three sons, Thomas, Marcus, and Alexander. Sadly, Lars will miss the birth of his first grandchild, which is only a few weeks away. He will also miss enjoying his new listening room, which was under construction when he died.
That room, almost finished, looked very empty.