Joseph Schwartz Retires From Conservatory

Joseph Schwartz

Spencer Myer, class of 2000, Heidi Brende '86, Albert Stanziano '69, Jeremy Denk '90, and the entire Oberlin College Choir spent the afternoon of September 18 at Warner Concert Hall, honoring professor of piano Joseph Schwartz on his retirement after 38 years at the Conservatory.

The three distinguished musicians, all former pupils, selected works of Chopin, Liszt, and Mendelssohn, remembering these composers as among Schwartz' favorites. The choir followed the piano presentations with two traditional spirituals that another pupil, Moses George Hogan '79, had planned to personally conduct; however, hurricane warnings in his hometown of New Orleans grounded all flights, and he was unable to attend the gala.

Schwartz and his wife, Florence, are moving to their newly-built home in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where his new Steinway awaits him, ensuring that he will yield to urgent pleas that he conduct master classes there. "It's been a long run," Schwartz said, but in some ways it feels like we came to Oberlin yesterday."

Although giving up full-time teaching, Schwartz will continue performing with the Oberlin Trio. The group was formed in 1984 with Andor Toth, professor of violincello and chamber music, and Stephen Clapp, former Oberlin professor of violin, now dean of Juilliard. The trio will perform in Armenia this fall, and Schwartz is also scheduled for a few solo performances, including a second appearance with the Galveston Symphony Orchestra in an all-Beethoven program.

"To work with the music itself is a never-ending source of pleasure," he says. "The challenge is to find the right sound or the right gesture which illuminates the inner meaning of the work. As I play the piano these days, I feel an even closer kinship with the color and sound, with the character and shape of the music, the balance between its emotional content and its structure."*

*Parts of this article were taken from the Observer, Oberlin's former faculty and staff newspaper.