A Visit With Gene Rochberg, wife of composer George Rochberg
May 19, 2008
Today Peter Minkler and I drove to a suburb of Philadelphia to visit with Gene Rochberg, widow of the great composer George Rochberg, whose piece we are recording this summer. Mrs. Rochberg is an absolutely delightful woman – proudly 89 and a half years old, she still wears high heels and acts at least 15 years younger than she is. Never afraid to speak her mind, and possessing a hilarious sense of humor, we passed several hours with her having lunch and playing George’s viola sonata for her. She spoke at length of her husband and his work, her devotion to him completely obvious.
Gene enjoyed our reading of the sonata very much. She said to us “My impression of you two is that you play this piece with real strength.” And also added that our performance of it meant a great deal to her and that she would carry it with her. She told many stories of famous performers and composers – Samuel Barber (whom she called “Sam”), “Oh, that Ormandy!” And “that violinist who always seems to be playing the Mendelssohn!” (Perlman) It was a treat to spend time with her and it was inspiring to hear her talk of so many people who left such a mark on the art world.
Here are some pictures from our visit.
And for anyone who’s wondering….. I intend to wear high heels and speak my mind when I’M 89 1/2! Stick around and find out!