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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mr. Kaza's opus

A reader writes:

Once in a while a person comes along who truly influences your life.

I wonder how many people who read your blog remember Eugene Kaza. He was one fantastic person.

He is the reason I can recognize Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 as well as Don Gillis' Symphony 5½. He gave me my lifelong appreciation of classical music.

While I was absolutely the worst (no talent) student he every taught, he was the best teacher I ever had during my high school years at Grant High School.

Comments (3)

A reader notes:

Dick Peterson from the music group The Kingsmen was a high school student of Eugene Kaza. Dick became a member the Kingsmen a few months after they recorded the hit single Louie, Louie. He traveled with the band for a couple of years. I think Dick is still involved with keeping the memory of the Kingsmen alive.

In retrospect, I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't a few more of Kaza's students who went on to some musical fame.

I attended Grant High during some of Kaza's years and his many concerts and excellent bands made enough of an impression on me that I almost majored in music in college. I also knew his son Paul. Grant also had a world-class teacher in speech/debate -- I forget her name, but she deserves to have a movie made about her as well.


Yes, there were many, especially in his private violin and viola studio. Randy Kelly is principal viola of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Daniel Avshalomov is the violist of the American String Quartet. John Weller is an assistant concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony. And there are many more. Although I am a french hornist and never "studied" with my father as such, he took me to concerts starting at an early age, and his musical influence was incalculable. I followed his career performing with symphony orchestras, and with private teaching. So in every sense my whole life and career has been a gift from him. But his legacy as a band and orchestra director influenced thousands more.

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