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
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
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
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
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
-- Rhoda Pinsley Levin
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’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
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
‘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
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
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.”
Oberlin College Class of '51 50th Reunion,
“Tribute to Rhoda Pinsley Levin”, May 28, 2001
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
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
“…vibrant, talented, and musically
“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.”
“…talent, intelligence, distinction…”
“…impeccable, glorious, delectable performer…”
“…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