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Subject: Julius Grossman, Conductor Who Brought Music to the Masses

New York
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Date Posted: November 19, 2002 8:02:12 EDT

Julius Grossman, a conductor and teacher who established the music department at the High School of Performing Arts, and who for nearly 50 years led free orchestra concerts in New York City neighborhoods, died last Tuesday at the North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. He was 90 and lived in Queens Village.

Mr. Grossman was born in Brooklyn and began his musical studies as a violinist, but he studied conducting at Washington Square College of New York University in the late 1940's. After teaching instrumental music at Metropolitan Vocational High School in Manhattan, he was invited in 1949 to put together a music program for the High School of Performing Arts. He taught at the school until 1970.

Early in his career, Mr. Grossman focused on the need for free concerts in parks, community centers and retirement homes. In 1955 he assembled the Lower Eastside Neighborhoods Symphony Orchestra, which performed its first concerts that summer.

He continued to conduct the orchestra for several years also leading free concerts by the Naumburg Symphony Orchestra before starting a new organization under the banner of Municipal Concerts Inc. in 1957. Mr. Grossman spent three years raising money for the project, and in 1960 he formed an orchestra and began giving performances.

The Municipal Concerts Orchestra, which was renamed the Julius Grossman Orchestra in 1980, was a freelance ensemble that included players from Broadway orchestras who were between shows, as well as young musicians seeking their first orchestra engagements in New York. Members of the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic sometimes performed as soloists. In addition to its free performances, the orchestra played an annual fund-raising concert at Alice Tully Hall until the late 1980's.

In recent years Mr. Grossman continued to lead about two dozen concerts a year, the last of which was three weeks ago. The orchestra has decided to complete its current season, which is to end with a concert at Flushing House, in Flushing, Queens, on Dec. 3. The orchestra's future beyond that is under discussion.

Mr. Grossman is survived by his wife, Ruth Cassack Grossman; a daughter, Jean Grossman Serating; and a son, Marc Grossman.

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