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Paul F. Kauriga | Musician, educator, 88

Paul F. Kauriga, 88, of Mayfair, a musician and educator, died Wednesday of heart failure at his home.

For 30 years before retiring in 1981, Mr. Kauriga traveled to schools in the Philadelphia School District, teaching mostly string instruments. His sons Gregory, Dimitri and Paul and his grandson Gregory also became school district music teachers and played in Mr. Kauriga's balalaika orchestra, which performed at Carnegie Hall and other venues.

Mr. Kauriga's balalaika recordings of Russian folk music were used in movie scores and by the 1996 U.S. women's gymnastics team, his grandson said. A balalaika is a three-stringed Russian instrument. The recordings are in the archives of the Smithsonian Institution and were nominated for a Grammy award for international music in the 1990s.

Mr. Kauriga also headed a dance orchestra - he played a white electric violin - and played mandolin for the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Philadelphia Opera Company.

His parents were Russian immigrants, and he learned to play the balalaika while growing up in Northeast Philadelphia. He graduated from Mastbaum High School and studied the viola at Curtis Institute of Music.

During World War II, he served in the Army orchestra.

In addition to his sons and grandson, Mr. Kauriga is survived by six other grandchildren and one great-grandchild. His wife of more than 60 years, the singer Tania Spicak Kauriga, died in March.

A funeral will be at 10 a.m. today at St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Church, 335 Fairmount Ave. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in Oakland Cemetery.