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16 May 2018

The Passing of Pia Gilbert (1921-2018)

Pia Gilbert, ever youthful at 95 (© Ralph Benko)

The John Cage Trust mourns the passing of dear Pia Gilbert (1921-2018), who died at home in her Upper West Side apartment in New York on Monday, May 14.  Pia was a close friend to many, including John Cage and Merce Cunningham, and she was among my very first teachers during my graduate school years at U.C.L.A.  Her life was rich and amazing -- you can access her Oral History conducted at U.C.L.A. in 1986-1987 here.  You can also access a beautiful blog posted last year by the author Dawn Denham (formerly Haines) here, which centers around Pia's close friendship with the late American mezzo-soprano, Jan DeGaetani.  While Pia is very much associated in my mind with Los Angeles (where she was close to the entire Schoenberg family), she retired from U.C.L.A. in 1985 and relocated to New York, where she took up a teaching position at the Juilliard School.  She is survived by her daughter, Vivian, her brother, Hans and his wife, Barbara, and their three children, Rebecca, Jonathan, and Sarah.  I am personally quite saddened by her death.  And New York doesn't feel quite the same without her.

Laura Kuhn