RALPH Pianist, composer, arranger, administrator, teacher, painter, friend of and collaborator with most of the leading musical figures of the first two-thirds of the 20th century - passed away quietly on Tuesday, August 2, 2011, at his home in Albuquerque, where he lived since 1958. He was one month short of his 101st birthday. Berkowitz was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 5, 1910, to Romanian immigrant parents. His father was instrumental in shaping young Ralph's musical culture and experience. In 1925, Berkowitz attended the first performance of George Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F, with Gershwin at the piano. With his father's permission, Berkowitz left high school before graduation in order to study music theory from 1925 to 1927 at what would become the Juilliard School. In 1928, he was accepted as a member of the first full scholarship class at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Graduating with a degree in accompanying in 1932, he remained at Curtis until 1940 as a member of the faculty. During his time at Curtis, musicians such as Samuel Barber, Gian Carlo Menotti, Leonard Bernstein, and Jorge Bolet were also students. In 1940, Berkowitz embarked on a 30-year collaboration with Russian cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. The two played hundreds of concerts together across four continents and made many recordings. Other artists with whom he collaborated and/or recorded in these years included tenor Jan Peerce, violinists Isaac Stern and Eudice Shapiro, composer/violinist George Enescu and cellist Leonard Rose. In 1946, he accepted the position of Executive Assistant to Boston Symphony Orchestra Music Director Serge Koussevitsky. He later became Dean of Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony - a position he retained until 1964. At Tanglewood, in addition to his duties managing the Tanglewood Music Festival, he oversaw the faculty of the Tanglewood School which at that time included Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Lukas Foss, Darius Milhaud, Paul Hindemith, and many others. Conducting students during Berkowitz' tenure included Seiji Ozawa, Lorin Maazel, Claudio Abbado and Zubin Mehta. Beginning in 1946, Berkowitz traveled each summer to Albuquerque, New Mexico to perform in the June Music Festival. In an association that lasted until 1981, Berkowitz played in hundreds of Festival concerts. He moved to Albuquerque in 1958. From 1958 to 1970, he managed the Albuquerque Civic Symphony, later known as the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. He was also a frequent piano soloist. In one evening in the 1960's Berkowitz played both the Brahms' Piano Concerto #2 and Beethoven's Piano Concerto #5, "The Emperor". Berkowitz was also an avid reader on all topics and in the 1960's he delivered a series of televised lectures in Albuquerque called "The Arts", interweaving music, art and literature. Largely retiring from public performance at the age of 71, Berkowitz made a final appearance as soloist with the New Mexico Symphony celebrating his 90th birthday in a program that also included a piano performance by his cousin, actor Paul Reiser. In 2004, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson honored him with the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts in a ceremony in Santa Fe. In his later years, Berkowitz maintained lively correspondence, phone calls, and personal visits from a broad range of friends including scientists, judges and literary scholars. His musical friends included Isaac Stern, Yo Yo Ma, Olga Kern, Richard Goode, Hillary Hahn, Gary Graffman, Lukas Foss, JoAnn Falletta, David Lockington, and many others. He taught students privately throughout his career up until his death. From 1940 through the 1970's Ralph Berkowitz was a prolific artist. He worked in many mediums including watercolors, oils, woodcuts, and sculpture. He presented his work at shows in California, Philadelphia, Albuquerque and the Berkshires in Massachusetts. In 1932, Berkowitz married pianist Freda Pastor with whom he had two daughters. In 1965, he married journalist Beth Hodgson. He is survived by his daughter Ellen B. Carlin and her husband Albert, and daughter Joan Schuman; grandchildren Gregory Carlin and spouse Star Mullins, Peter Ames Carlin and spouse Sarah Ames, and Hans Schuman; great-grandchildren Keane, Anna, Teddy and Max Carlin; and hundreds of devoted friends. A memorial gathering will be held on his 101st birthday, September 5, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. at Robertson and Sons Concert Hall, 3201 Carlisle Boulevard, NE, Albuquerque.
Published on: Fri September 02, 2011