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A Piano Student Remembered

The Norman Siegel Memorial Scholarship, a Pre-College composition scholarship to be awarded over five years, commemorates the life of Pre-College graduate Norman Siegel, who died on July 2, 2010. That same month, the scholarship was established by his mother, Fanny Siegel, and his aunt, Hilda Niedelman. 

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Born in 1950, Norman Siegel attended Juilliard Pre-College from 1960 to 1968, where he studied piano with Anna Strassner and Yuri Yamamoto and composition with Hugh Aitken. Though he was afflicted at various times in his life with two brain tumors and other health complications, Siegel was an accomplished musician and gifted composer. 

His sister, Jessica Siegel, described him as a musical prodigy who quickly outpaced her, though they began taking piano lessons at the same time as children. 

She credits Juilliard with opening up the world of music to her brother—something their Milford, N.J., schools could not have done in the same way. His Pre-College teachers, she said, “took him seriously as a real musician early in his life,” enabling his development as a composer. 

He continued to study composition at Harvard, where he also wrote music for the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the university’s comic burlesque productions. In 1972, the year Siegel graduated, The Harvard Crimson’s Gregg J. Kilday described Siegel’s score for Hasty Pudding’s The Wrongway Inn as “nicely eclectic,” drawing comparisons to Gilbert and Sullivan and Stephen Sondheim. After Harvard, Siegel enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1993, he earned an M.F.A. in music from Brandeis University. 

Despite continued health struggles, Siegel remained a devoted musician who taught in the Boston area and founded his own music school.

By helping young composers study in the Pre-College program, Siegel’s family hopes to pass on what they view as the opportunity that jump-started his career. Fanny Siegel, Norman’s mother, said, “The music filled his life so completely—it took all of his attention and it remained that way through the rest of his life.” 

The first Norman Siegel Memorial Scholarship was awarded for the current academic year to Joshua Meyers of New York City, who began playing the piano at age 3 and composing at age 6. Born in 1996, Meyers has been a Pre-College student for four years and studies composition with Ira Taxin and percussion with Jonathan Haas. 

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