2008-07-02 / Local News


Local attorney's got a little 'Liszt' of fellow concert aficionados

FAMILY: Wife, Linda. Son and daughter-in-law, David and Karen

FEDERATION CONNECTION: Jewish Community Relations Council president 2005-2007

SYNAGOGUE: Temple Emanuel

RESIDENCE: Cherry Hill

CONCERT PLANS: The Mann in July to hear the Sibelius Violin Concerto

DREAM: To see classical music presented so that it seems more accessible and is as inviting as it can be. The pleasure that it gives must be passed on.

Henry Maurer loves a piano. To paraphrase Irving Berlin, "he is delighted when he's invited to hear some longhaired genius play." He also loves a symphony orchestra, and makes a point of hearing at least a dozen concerts and recitals in the course of a year.

In between performances, Internet exchanges with music lovers the world over add to his pleasure, according to this serious concertgoer. "The Net enables music lovers from all over to connect," says Maurer, who regularly emails postconcert impressions to 20 Internet pals and posts them on classical music message boards as well.

One of Maurer's written impressions followed a 1996 performance by Marc André Hamelin, a French Canadian piano virtuoso he'd learned of on the Internet. He remembers this impression vividly because it was inspired by Hamelin's unusual performance venue- Tower Records' classical annex on Philadelphia's South St.

Tower had set up a piano on which Hamelin gave a free recital, Maurer recalls, and there were purple-haired, wildly outfitted punks staring at him through the windows while he played. Dressed informally but neatly, Hamelin looked, "like an accountant on his day off," Maurer wrote. "The incongruity of Tower's classical recital space and the South St. ambience was amusing."

Maurer, 57, traces his love of music to early childhood. His father, a violinist who studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, worked as musician in New York City- leading a band in the Astor Hotel, playing at the 1939 World's Fair, performing for Sonja Henie's ice show, and doing his own radio program. His mother, a dancer and choreographer, was dance captain when the Radio City Music Hall opened and worked her way up to director of the Rockettes.

Studying piano from the age of five, Maurer describes himself as "a typical piano student at the beginning," mildly interested in playing pieces and doing as he was told. "But in 1965, I got involved in the music itself," he said. The year stands out because Vladimir Horowitz' 1965 return to the concert stage after a 12 year absence motivated him.

His parents attended the Horowitz Carnegie Hall comeback and brought their son a record that he treasures to this day. "I felt the music for the first time," Maurer said. "It wasn't about the notes or the technique. I heard that record and I felt the communication between Horowitz and the audience."

He started listening to all three of New York's classical music stations and borrowing records from the public library. "A bit later, when I had a couple of bucks, I started buying records." He also started telling his piano teacher what he wanted to learn.

Maurer no longer plays the piano- although he still owns one. Saying that music is the greatest avocation and worst vocation, his dad advised him against a musical career. And he took that advice, becoming an attorney who now heads the Appeals Office of the New Jersey Civil Service System, while still enjoying musical pursuits. .

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