Tag Archives: piano

Connected in time and space…part 3

Rosalyn Tureck

Unless you are a Bach enthusiast of a certain age, or she was married to your uncle (as she was to mine), you probably won’t be familiar with the name.


(picture above from the Oberlin College Yearbook where she performed in 1939)

Not falling into the first category, and being quite young at the time of their marriage, I was interested in, but not impressed by her persona.  Unfolding gradually over the following years, the story of their connection, beginning at Caltech in the late 1930’s, became an exotic thread woven into the fabric of my family history.

You have met ‘Uncle George’ – George Wallingford Downs, Jr*

(*posts:  Connected in time and space….parts 1 and 2)

The first encounter between musician and physicist was to be at the Stammtisch** – a casual monthly gathering of faculty at Caltech.   To each meeting a notable person from outside their ranks was invited to share in the meal during which he or she was asked one question, the answer to which would be delivered after dinner in the form of a lecture.  Rosalyn had debuted at Carnegie Hall and was – in her own words –  “fabulous and an overnight success”.  Invited, she traveled from New York to Pasadena in 1938, and was asked the question: ‘is piano music qualitative or quantitative’.

(**German:   regular’s table; an informal group meeting or gathering held on a regular basis; the Stammtisch at Caltech met sometimes at a private home and often at the Athenaeum.)


Recognized as ‘The High Priestess if Bach”,  Rosalyn performed worldwide, recorded, wrote, and dedicated her life to perfecting a specific style of playing his music, reflecting the vision of the composer.

Meanwhile, George continued his affiliation with Caltech, worked on the development of ‘sonar’ at UCSD, the Caltech Torpedo Project, and, working with the Manhattan Project, had a hand in developing the trigger for the atomic bomb.  He also worked for, participated in the formation of, and served on the Board of Directors of several companies in related fields.


Twenty-five years would pass before they married in England in September of 1964.


Rosalyn and I would not meet until 31 years after my uncle’s death.


Of course, I find the story line fascinating…..perhaps, as it unfolds, you will too………

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My Women of Influence…Gail

Gail is just my age, a second cousin once removed, and a beloved friend.  She fits my definition of  women who have influenced my life:

‘inspired, nurtured, loved, set the bar high, blazed the trail, lived with grace, risen to the task, used their gifts, modeled kindness, exhibited joie de vivre.’

She has the gift of music and has set the bar high for herself,


even decorating with musical instruments,



all the while inspiring others, especially children through her participation as a docent in the Music Van program.  The Music Van is a mobile music classroom filled with orchestral instruments which visits local third grade classrooms, allowing the students hands on experience with the instruments.


The accordion is her forte.





She participates in accordion bands, performs solo, and delights family, friends, our community and beyond with her music.



True to our heritage she keeps the Italian culinary tradition alive.

See  posts ‘Italian Feasts…Part 1 and Part 2’

From the oven in her yard come amazing pizzas, usually served as a first course, always with other delights to follow.



Her love of travel has taken her to many places.  Because she can trace her lineage through a male relative to Italy, to her delight, she was able to obtain an Italian passport!


Wonderful travel adventures together…

life milestones celebrated…

so blessed to share the journey!!!


Filed under Family history, Food, Inspiration, Interiors, Travel