In Memoriam: Frank Ezra Levy

On April 23, Frank Ezra Levy — composer, cellist, teacher, and mentor — passed away at the age of 86. Born in Paris on October 15, 1930, Levy’s parents were painter Else Hammerschlag and Swiss pianist and composer Ernst Levy. After emigrating to the New York in 1939, he began his musical training by studying cello, and earned his high school diploma from the High School of Music and Arts (now known as LaGuardia High School for Music and Art, and the Performing Arts) in 1948. He continued his studies at The Juilliard School and graduated in 1951, and subsequently earned an M.A. in Musicology from The University of Chicago in 1954. Early in his career, Levy taught at The New School and at Brooklyn College; and, in 2008–2009, Levy became Kean University’s (Union, NJ) first Composer-in-Residence.

Even while earning his living as a cellist, Levy was always composing. Influenced by his father’s music as well as by his teacher Hugo Kauder, Levy developed a distinct musical language with an accessible idiom and is considered a prominent, modern, non-avant-garde American composer. His prolific catalogue features 239 published works, including 15 symphonies, 20 string quartets, and many other orchestral, vocal, and chamber works. In recent seasons, performances of his works included: the Olympia Philharmonic’s concert of his Divertimento Concertante; a Swiss performance of Piano Sonata No. 6, and the premiere of his song cycle Ten Songs of Nature and the Mind (for voice, viola and piano) which features texts by American poet Emily Dickinson.

To learn more about Frank Ezra Levy and his music, visit