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A ‘Winter Wind’ Brings Love; Remembering Jacob Druckman

In response to The Journal’s newish Milestones column, Genaro Santoro (B.M. ’67, M.S. ’68, piano) wrote the following letter about his wedding to classmate Sam Viviano (B.S. ’65, M.S. ’66, piano), 45 years after they’d met at Juilliard.

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On a beautiful New York afternoon, I was in a practice room at the old Juilliard building on Claremont Avenue, working on the Chopin Etude, Op. 25, No. 11, nicknamed the “Winter Wind.” I had the window wide open to the view of Broadway and 122nd Street. All the practice rooms had heavy wooden double doors. I recall hearing the faint sound of the outer door opening and then the inner door flew open, causing a blast of air to rip through the room and blow my music off the piano. “Wow, there really is a winter wind in here,” said the extraordinarily handsome young man who entered. We both laughed. That was the first time I met Sam Viviano. It was May 1962, and we were both 20.

At the beginning of the fall semester, we met again and Sam told me there was a room for rent in the large apartment where he rented a room (Juilliard had no dorms then). I took the room, and we were soon inseparable—we’d often spend Sundays walking from Juilliard to the Village. One evening in the fall of 1963, Sam broke down into tears and told me he loved me. I loved him too. This was the beginning of our life together.

We celebrated our 50th anniversary and our fifth wedding anniversary—a lot has changed in the last 50 years—last fall. We can’t imagine life without each other. 

Genaro Santoro
(B.M. ’67, M.S. ’68, piano)

Memphis, Tenn.

Alum David Conviser sent this reminiscence about Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jacob Druckman (B.S. ’54, M.S. ’56, composition), who was on the Juilliard faculty from 1956 to 1972 and who died in 1996.

Recently I was looking through some old vocal scores, and one caught my attention: The Simple Gifts, a cantata by Jacob Druckman based on themes of the American Shakers.

After World War II, Tanglewood reopened and those of us whose studies had been put on hold hastened to sign up to resume them, courtesy of the G.I. Bill. Robert Shaw, then a faculty member of both Juilliard and Tanglewood, invited a small group of his students (including me) to be part of a unique performing group apart from the all-inclusive Tanglewood chorus. Upon arrival, we were ushered into a converted mansion in Lenox, Mass., called Tracy Hall [it would later be the setting for the film The Ciderhouse Rules], which would our home for the duration—and from which an educated thumb could get you a ride to the Tanglewood grounds.

The Tanglewood student roster of that time reads like a who’s-who of musicians—not a few were past and present members of the Juilliard faculty. From time to time, faculty members were invited to Tracy Hall to visit, make music, and indulge in some serious schmoozing. On one occasion, a plot was hatched such that, upon arrival, each guest was greeted with a personal musical identification. Thus, Bernstein got his due as did Copland and the others. The culprit behind these shenanigans was a 20-year-old Jacob Druckman.

I had acquired a vintage 1930 Hubmobile convertible replete with rumble seat, and we would tool around the countryside at a breathtaking 20 m.p.h. It was exhilarating. A privileged few were invited to join our driving “club,” though Bernstein politely declined. A young Norman Karol, the concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, was a member in good standing, as was his cousin Bob of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Lee Pockriss, who cowrote such indelible classics as “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” and “Catch a Falling Star” was a major rumble-seat fan, as was Druckman, whom we called Jack.

As music director of the Shaker Village work camp nearby, I interacted with Tanglewood’s various programs. Druckman was a frequent visitor and often brought colleagues to play for the campers. He had a keen interest in all things Shaker—music, customs, dance, crafts, and rituals—he had enjoyed a stint at a nearby camp as an arts and crafts counselor. He was particularly intrigued by the amazing Shaker inventions: the circular saw, common clothes pin, metal pen, flat broom—and of course the exquisite furniture and chairs.

When we offered him a commission to produce a work based on the music, dance, and worship of the Shakers, he did his research at camp, the Library of Congress, and with the input of the few remaining Shakers. One—the only living male Shaker—was Brother Ricardo (“Ricky” to the kids, but not to his face). He loved to attend rehearsals and called my choir “singing school.” In a recorded session, he expounded upon the customs and beliefs of the Shakers. He also demonstrated, to the delight of the kids, the proper traditional execution of the songs and dances.

Not long after Druckman gave me the completed score, I invited him to attend (incognito) a rehearsal. I occasionally glanced at him and found he was grinning from ear to ear. During the break, I introduced him to the boys and girls. There was dead silence—disbelief—and then pandemonium. When the din subsided, Druckman, visibly moved, said “Davie, you promised me a good reading. It wasn’t good, it was fabulous, and I thank you all for a job well done.”

When our paths crossed over the years—alas, not often enough—it was always Davie and Jack.

David Conviser
(Diploma ’39, voice)

Windermere, Fla.

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