Rhoda Pinsley Levin was a pianist and music educator active in the Long Island and Hofstra University musical communities.  A piano teacher with a large following, she also served as vice president of the Hofstra-sponsored Pro Arte Symphony Orchestra League and, previously, as choral music teacher in the public school systems of Netcong, New Jersey, and Mamaroneck and North Merrick, New York.

In addition to her solo concertizing, Mrs. Levin performed as accompanist for various chamber music, vocal and modern dance groups, and for Classroom Materials Inc. of Great Neck, which provided musical instructional recordings to public schools.  She also toured the country and performed on radio with the Oberlin Woodwind Ensemble.

Born in New York City in 1929, Mrs. Levin was raised in Freeport, Long Island, and later Forest Hills.  After attending the High School of Music and Art in New York City, she received a Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a Masters in Music Education from Columbia University.

Mrs. Levin died of cancer in 1971 at the age of 41.  Hofstra’s annual Rhoda Pinsley Levin Endowed Award for Excellence in Musical Performance assists promising senior undergraduate musicians in their scholarly and vocational pursuits.  Her legacy is honored by that award, its annual recitals, and Hofstra’s Rhoda Levin Piano Literature Collection.



“…these music-hungry kids…  what endless possibilities there are…  I only hope I have opened doors for you, helped to give you confidence, and have shown you what resources you all have that you can call upon for the rest of your lives.”

 -- Rhoda Pinsley Levin


The Westbury Times, “Woman’s Whirl”, Gloria Glaser, April 1963

Clutching a fern which he solemnly declared was a tree, three and one half year old Adam Levin passed through the living room of his home on Wickey Avenue in Westbury.  His “tree” came from a grouping of flower arrangements that were tokens of his mother’s (Rhoda Pinsley Levin) recital at Hofstra University the day before.

Rhoda Levin, a slim, serious brunette was quietly delighted with the turnout of more than 200 concert-goers at the recital on Sunday, April 21.  A highlight of the concert was the presentation of flowers to her by the daughter of composer Robert Kurka, a deceased friend.  His Sonata Opus 20, Number 1, was one of her program selections.  Mrs. Levin made her return to concert performing through the encouragement of Morton Estrin, whose pupil she has been for the past three years.

For 10 years, Rhoda, wife of Harvey Levin, head of the Department of Economics at Hofstra, had given up the piano as a student and performer to concentrate on teaching it to others.  Music has been in her life since the age of five, when piano lessons started for her.  The High School of Music and Art, Oberlin Conservatory of Music (where she was elected to the honorary society, Pi Kappa Lambda) and a M.A. from Columbia continued her intensive study of the instrument.  She has taught music in the public schools of New Jersey, Westchester County and North Merrick, Long Island.  Now, as for some time, she teaches private pupils at her home.

Residents of Westbury for the past seven years, the Levins do not consider their musical household out of the ordinary.  Adam thinks “all mommies play the piano”; he frequently beats out a non-musical pre-schooler’s din on the keys.  A father who plays self-taught jazz, a constantly growing collection of recordings and piano pupils and mommy at the keyboard are part of a normal day for Adam.

Next year will find the three Levins in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Just for the year, Dr. Levin will study at Harvard under a special grant.

Whither from here after a successful concert?  Classifying herself as “a talented amateur”, Rhoda hopes for perhaps another concert next year. spends too much of one's life trying to better oneself in one field...  all the hours spent on music and none on literature, politics, philosophy, etc.
Why can't one reach a decent balance?

-- Rhoda Pinsley Levin

Newsday, “Rhoda Levin, Pianist, Music Patron”, Tony Schaeffer, February 17, 1971

Garden City – Mrs. Rhoda Pinsley Levin, 41, a pianist, music teacher and prominent supporter of the Pro Arte Symphony Orchestra affiliated with Hofstra University died yesterday of cancer in Mercy Hospital, Rockville Centre.

Mrs. Levin was former vice president of the Pro Arte Symphony Orchestra League, chairman of its lecture series, and a member of the symphony board at the time of her death.  She was the wife of Prof. Harvey Levin, occupant of the Augustus B. Weller Chair in Economics at Hofstra.  They have a son Adam, 11.  Mrs. Levin’s father Dr. Irving Pinsley, chief psychiatrist at Kings Park State Hospital, also survives.  Private services were held yesterday.

Born in New York City July 3, 1929, and reared in Freeport, Mrs. Levin was a graduate of the High School of Music and Art in New York City and the Oberlin (Ohio) Conservatory of Music, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in music education with special emphasis on piano and theory.  In 1954, she earned a master’s degree in music education at Columbia University.  At Oberlin Mrs. Levin was elected to Pi Kappa Lambda, national music honor society, toured the Midwest and East as pianist with the Oberlin Woodwind Ensemble, and made several radio appearances.

Appeared as Soloist

Mrs. Levin’s musical training included study from 1934 until approximately two and a half years ago with such teachers as Eva S. Weil, Herbert Jaffe, Harry Cumpson, Beryl A. Ladd, Joseph T. Hungate, Morton Estrin, Vivian Rivkin and Blanche Abram.  She has appeared as featured soloist in musical productions at Hofstra and Harvard University, and was assistant musical director for the Harvard Gilbert & Sullivan Players’ production of “The Gondoliers” in December, 1963.

For several years, Mrs. Levin had worked with Lois Raebeck, music supervisor of North Merrick Public Schools, as accompanist while making recordings for Classroom Materials Inc. of Great Neck for public school music instruction.  Previously she had held supervisory appointments in music in Netcong, N.J., Mamaroneck, N.Y., and North Merrick public schools.  Mrs. Levin had provided extensive piano accompaniment over the years to various chamber music, vocal and modern dance groups in addition to her own recitals and solo performances and large private teaching following in the Garden City area.

‘On Borrowed Time’

“She told me three years ago she was living on borrowed time,” Edward N. Beck, manager of the Pro Arte Symphony Orchestra, which has been sponsored by Hofstra, said yesterday.  “But she just went on about her business and there was no complaining from her about it.  She was one of the heroes of the entire symphony effort.”  Gabriel Fontrier, professor of music at Queens College and lecturer in the series chaired by Mrs. Levin, recalled, “The ladies of the (symphony) league raised thousands and thousands of dollars for the orchestra and Mrs. Levin was very, very active with that.  She was a fine pianist, a student of distinguished international figures.  When the community has a symphony orchestra to support it becomes an enormous undertaking, and Mrs. Levin was truly one of the champions of the orchestra, one of the ones who did the most.”

A memorial service and concert for Mrs. Levin was held at the Waldorf School of Garden City on February 28, 1971.
It was hosted by choral maestro George Rose, her friend and former Oberlin Conservatory classmate.

Long Island Press, “Rhoda Levin, Long Island Teacher, Concert Pianist”, February 17, 1971

 Private services were held yesterday for Mrs. Rhoda Levin, 41, of Garden City, a concert pianist, piano teacher and former vice president of the Pro Arte Symphony Orchestra League.

Mrs. Levin died yesterday at Mercy Hospital, Rockville Centre, after a three-year illness.

She was vice president until last spring when she continued only as a board member of the league, an organization which raises funds for the Hofstra University founded orchestra.

Mrs. Levin was born in the Bronx, attended public schools in Freeport and Baldwin, and graduated from the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan in 1947.  She earned a Bachelor of Music degree in 1951 from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Oberlin College, Ohio.

There she often played the piano with the Oberlin Woodwind Ensemble, toured the Middle West and the East, and made several radio broadcasts.  At the conservatory, Mrs. Levin was in the honor list every year and, in 1951, was elected to Pi Kappa Lambda, the highest music honorary society.

At Teacher's College, Columbia University, she earned an MA in music education.  With her certificate to teach music in the New York public schools, she studied education and psychology at Hofstra University, Hempstead, in 1957-59, earning a general teaching license.

While earning her degrees, she studied with the well-known concert pianist-teachers Eva S. Weil, Herbert Jaffe, Harry Cumpson, Beryl A. Ladd, Joseph T. Hungate, and later with internationally-known Morton Estrin, Vivian Rivkin and Blanche Abram.

Mrs. Levin was music counselor in a camp in Central Valley, N.Y., in 1949, run by the Jewish Board of Guardians, and at Camp Birchwood in Brandon, Vt., in 1951.

In the field of vocal and instrumental music, she held supervisory jobs in the public schools of Netcong, N.J., 1951-53; Rye Neck in Mamaroneck, N.Y., 1953-55; and North Merrick, 1955-59.

In 1963, Mrs. Levin served as assistant musical director of “The Gondoliers”, produced by the Harvard Gilbert & Sullivan Players.  The following April at Harvard University, she was director and featured soloist in a spring musicale sponsored by Mrs. Ann Pusey, the university president's wife.

Her husband, Dr. Harvey J. Levin, is professor of economics at Hofstra.  Her father, Dr. Irving Pinsley, practices medicine in Kings Park.  In addition, she leaves a son, Adam of Garden City.

Mrs. Edmund Coffin, vice president of the Pro Arte Symphony League, yesterday said, “Pro Arte mournes the loss of one of its most valuable supporters.  Rhoda Levin was a member of the Pro Arte League from its inception, chairman of its lecture series, and a tireless officer and member of the Board.

“A fine musician, she demanded the highest professional standards of herself and of the orchestra.  We shall miss her sadly.


(Click here)


Oberlin College Class of '51 50th Reunion, “Tribute to Rhoda Pinsley Levin”, May 28, 2001

For all her accomplishments, as a musician as well as a human being, my mother would have been genuinely modest in the face of any tribute.  Her successes as a concert pianist, music educator, community activist, humanitarian, devoted friend, wife and mother, combined with her keen sensitivity, resilient spirit and humor, were unassuming.  Yet, they profoundly touched seemingly everyone who knew her, whether casually or closely.  Her life at Oberlin included piano study with Beryl Ladd and Joseph Hungate, election to the national music honor society Pi Kappa Lambda, touring the United States and performing on radio as pianist with the Oberlin Woodwind Ensemble, and establishing lifelong friendships with classmates/colleagues Carol Block (Whited) and George Rose.  On behalf of our family, I want to express appreciation for Oberlin's invaluable role in my mother's life.  -- Adam Levin

Of all the colorful, kaleidoscopic bits and pieces swirling through my mind as I look back 50 years to my time at Oberlin, one person stands out with the clarity and brilliance of a radiant star.  I speak of my roommate Rhoda Pinsley Levin, who helped to make all my days at Oberlin immensely richer, and in the few years remaining to her after Oberlin, maintained a loyal friendship towards me that warms me even now.  Rhoda was a remarkably talented musician, but more than that, a truly beautiful human being.  She became a teacher, a concert pianist and a devoted wife and mother.  Although her life was much too short, she lived it with a passion and joy that many of us never achieve.  She has remained an inspiration to me, a constant reminder that life is precious and that dear friends are never really lost as long as memories live.  -- Carol Block Whited

Her music, along with my father's occasional jazz piano-playing, permeated the house.  Although she never pressured me to study music or be a musician,
I absorbed its language before I could speak.  It was in the room even when she wasn't.  Specific pieces became my earliest memories.

-- Adam Robert Levin, composer/songwriter


“…a fine pianist, a student of distinguished international figures.”
-- Gabriel Fontrier, composer

…vibrant, talented, and musically sensitive.”
-- Joseph T. Hungate, pianist/teacher

“…genuine, lovely, sensitive…”
-- Elie Siegmeister, composer

“Not only… all the traditional skills of speed, articulation, clarity, but… a wonderful sensitivity to tone and phrase… turn[s] notes into something that lives and breathes.  [The] music is alive…  There is no getting away from this cleanness and clarity – this freshness – it is like standing on the top of a mountain.”
-- Beryl A. Ladd, pianist/teacher

“…talent, intelligence, distinction…”
-- Eva S. Weil, pianist/teacher

“…impeccable, glorious, delectable performer…”
-- Sandy Enzer, pianist

“…a brave, bright song we were privileged to hear and whose memory we will never forget…  one of the truly precious people who brighten the lives of those who know her.”
-- Naomi Drucker, clarinetist
(American Chamber Ensemble) of those rare musicians who performed at the highest professional level, without ever losing sight of the fact that the music was more important than she or her ego was.  She always listened with extraordinary care, whether the performer was a student, a colleague, a concert artist.... or herself.  Her essential modesty and unwavering standards never allowed her to be over-confident or complacent.  She sought and achieved ever-increasing mastery, not for her own glory, but because that was what the music deserved!
-- Audrey Schneider, pianist

“…an accomplished pianist.  Her training had been top notch and her performance was clean and intelligent… excellent qualities in her interpretation…  She worked extremely hard on a difficult program... a real knuckle-buster... to great success…  She was reluctant to extol her virtues… [but] had nothing to be modest about…  The good really died young in her case and I shall always miss her.

-- Morton Estrin, pianist/teacher

...intelligent and vibrant...  The combined strength of her intellectual and expressive abilities was always evident...  Her delight at each new insight and enthusiasm... was an inspiration to me.
-- Blanche Abram, pianist/teacher
(American Chamber Ensemble)

“…a very talented fine person...  we affectionately called her ‘fingers Pinsley’ because of her fine technical prowess at the piano...  She will always remain in my memory.
-- George E. Waln, clarinetist/teacher
(Director, Oberlin Woodwind Ensemble)

“...perform[s] so magnificently...  How wonderful a memory for those of us who had the privilege of hearing her...”
-- Brahna C. Hutchins

 “…a remarkably talented musician… a clarity and depth like that of fine wine…  Her soul shined through her fingertips, and there was a lot of beauty in everything she played, whether it was solo music, accompaniment, or chamber music.”
-- Carol Block Whited


Background music: Sonata Op. 20 No. 1, Movement 1 (Allegro), by Robert Kurka