Marcia M. Klebanow

Marcia Klebanow, 89, of Danbury, passed away on March 7, 2017. She was the loving wife of the late Aaron Klebanow.

Marcia was born in the Bronx, NY in 1928, the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, Mina and Ezra Levine. Mina, who had worked as a doctor before emigrating to the US, worked as a dietician at a New York hospital, and was a strong proponent of musical education in her children. She made absolutely sure that her young children, Bob, Marcia and Lee (then known by their given names, as Feitl Iser, Masha and Eli) practiced musical instruments daily, without fail. Ezra, a loving father, owned a corner pharmacy in the Bronx, where he worked up to 18 hours a day, but still found time to mentor his children in their school work and teach Hebrew on the side.

Marcia started her formal piano studies at age 6 with Mrs. Schnall, a Bronx neighborhood piano teacher. Marcia attended Bronx Public School 50, Hermann Ridder Junior High School, and then she entered the highly esteemed High School of Music and Art as a voice major. While at Music and Art High School Marcia won a piano scholarship to study with Dr. DeGrab, a specialist in piano performance of Bach. Marcia then attended Hunter College, and earned her BA and a teaching certificate. She then took a job as a New York City elementary school teacher.

Beginning at the age of 12 and continuing into her mid-20’s, Marcia also played the accordion and spent summers (and some weekends) working as a professional singer and musician. Every summer, she played and sang with bands that performed throughout the “Borscht Belt”, in a variety of Catskill Mountain resorts, including Gibber’s Hotel on Kiamesha Lake and as far as Lake Tarleton Club in Pike, New Hampshire. Marcia’s repertoire included a huge range of the great Yiddish songs as well as Hebrew songs and, accompanying herself on the guitar, all the classic American folk songs. Her personality in front of a crowd was legendary. She was a great entertainer from the earliest age.

A highlight in Marcia’s bandstand years was when as a student at Hunter College she was chosen College Queen of the Air Force. As the winner, Marcia sang on live broadcast radio and recorded the song "It's A Good Day" with the great Glenn Miller Band under the direction of saxophonist Tex Beneke.

Marcia met her husband-to-be, Aaron Klebanow, while leading a small band at the Jewish wedding of Aaron’s cousin. When Aaron asked for her phone number, she averred, saying she wouldn’t usually give out her number while working. Aaron persisted, Marcia relented, and the rest is family history.

Marcia and Aaron moved to Danbury, CT in 1953, first settling in a house on King Street and within a few years moving to Alan Avenue on Juniper Ridge. While Aaron worked with his father and brother and built and operated a dairy feed mill, Maxon Mills, across the way in New York State, Marcia started a new life with an enthusiasm that is seldom matched. She raised three children and began a life-long active and successful music career that spanned over six decades!

Marcia performed as solo pianist with the Danbury Symphony Orchestra, she gave countless piano and chamber music recitals, all to critical acclaim. For many years, Marcia served as accompanist for the Danbury Community Chorus as well as the Director of the Danbury Young People’s Summer Chorus. Marcia once accompanied one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century, the Metropolitan Opera star contralto, Marian Anderson, in a performance in the Danbury area. In recent years, Marcia has also participated in numerous summer music festivals, where she is welcomed for her virtuosic playing, remarkable sight reading ability, and her outgoing and always sunny personality.

Another highlight of Marcia’s piano career was her performances with her four-hand piano partner of many years, Johanna Maria “Ami" Frankel. Together Marcia and Ami played the great four-hand piano repertoire, including works by Schumann, Schubert, Dvorak, Beethoven, Satie, Ravel, Barber and more. Their Carnegie (now Weill) Hall performance in 1973 was unforgettable and received critical praise.

Marcia has served as President of the Danbury Concert Association for more than 30 years, and as the DCA impresario, she has been responsible for organizing over 150 Danbury area concerts, attended by more than 25,000 people through the years.

Marcia has also been an active and sought-after teacher throughout her life. For decades, Marcia was a Board member of the Danbury Music Centre, and worked tirelessly to promote music programs and education throughout the Danbury area. She has taught music in the Danbury Public Schools, Sherman Public Schools, Western Connecticut State University, where she also earned a Masters degree, and she has maintained an active private studio of young pianists from the area for over 40 years.

Marcia served as the pianist and musical accompanist for countless local organizations, and has had a longstanding relationship with the Jewish organizations of the area. She is the proud recipient of the B’nai Brith Achievement Award (1999); she has been a member of the Danbury Jewish Center and Congregation B’nai Israel in Danbury, where she has been an active congregant for nearly 50 years. For over 15 years, Marcia has served as the pianist for Congregation Shir Shalom, formerly Temple Shearith Israel in Ridgefield, CT, where she played on countless Fridays and Saturdays, numerous bnai mitzvah, and annual High Holiday celebrations, and where her work with Cantor Debbie Katchko Gray brought deep meaning and great joy to thousands of people.

Marcia is survived by three children, Susan, Laura and Jack, and four grandchildren, Nicholas Luby and Jesse, Jordan and Jed Klebanow.

Funeral services officiated by Rabbi Nelly Altenburger will take place on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 1:00 pm at Congregation B’Nai Israel; 193 Clapboard Ridge Road, Danbury. Interment will follow in United Jewish Center Cemetery; 210 Gray’s Bridge Road, Brookfield. Shiva will be observed at times to be announced.

Contributions in her honor may be made to the Danbury Music Center or the Danbury Concert Association.

Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home, Danbury is in charge of funeral arrangements.

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