Remembering A Wonderful Educator

Talking with Jenny Lind winner in 2013.
Talking with Jenny Lind winner in 2013.

Robert Genualdi stands beside a piano in his Black Rock, Conn.home on Thursday, May 3. 2007. Genualdi was the music director and conductor for the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestra for 26 years. Genualdi died Saturday March, 14, 2015 following a short illness. He was 84. Photo: John Galayda, John Galayda/file Photo 

Thanks to Ralph Burke for forwarding the following writeup from the CT Post on Bob Genualdi. It outlines some of his many contributions as a musician and an educator, a truly wonderful man who gave much to the world:

A gentleman, friend, teacher, role model, composer, professional bassist, conductor, mentor. That was Robert S. Genualdi, who many described as a Renaissance man or simply "a legend."

Genualdi, of Bridgeport's Black Rock section, died Saturday morning at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport following a short illness. He was 84. He is survived by his wife, violist-educator Dorothy Straub Genualdi, and many relatives.

The Spear-Miller Funeral Home of Fairfield is in charge of arrangements; there will be no calling hours and burial will be private. His family has announced that a Mass in celebration of his life will take place on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at St.Ann Church, 481 Brewster St., Bridgeport.

Considered a pillar of the Connecticut musical community, Genualdi touched the lives of thousands upon thousands of youngsters and music-lovers alike since relocating to Connecticut about 55 years ago.

Born in Chicago, Genualdi received bachelor's and master's degrees in music fromNorthwestern University prior to moving in 1960 to Westport, where he taught for many years. He would later take on various roles in the Fairfield public schools, including that of headmaster at Andrew Warde and Fairfield high schools.

Genualdi served for more than 25 years as music director and conductor of the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras before retiring in 2007; he is credited with making the group among the best in the state.

One of his students from the GBYO years is Joshua D. Gersen (whose parents live in Fairfield), who was recently appointed assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic for the 2015-16 season.

"Mr. Genualdi was one of my first and most important teachers," wrote Gersen in an email. "He had a profound impact on my education as I know he did for countless other students. He was always so dedicated and generous with his time.

"For many years, after our GBYO rehearsal on Saturday mornings, Mr. Genualdi invited me to his home to give me private lessons in everything from music theory and composition to conducting," Gersen wrote. "I would not be where I am today without his guidance and patience throughout all of those years. He was the first person to ever give me the opportunity to get on the podium and conduct a live orchestra, and for that I will be eternally grateful."

Another one of his former students is Chris Hanulik, principal bass with the renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic, who emailed the family on Monday: "Bob Genualdi was one of the finest bass teachers and educators I have ever had the privilege of knowing. The fact that I have had the pleasure of playing professionally for the past 31 years is due in no small part to the lessons and attitude that Bob instilled in me as a young player."

Hanulik noted that Genualdi's legacy is a grand one.

"I have continued on countless occasions to pass along these same lessons to my students," he wrote. "I hope that `Mr G.' -- as he was affectionately referred to by his students -- would be pleased to know that his legacy continues on in bass players around the country."

For many years, Genualdi regularly performed with the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, as well as with the New Haven and Greenwich symphony orchestras.

One of his good friends was Greater Bridgeport Symphony Music Director Emeritus Gustav Meier.

"Bob was the kind of musician who inspired the conductor," said Meier, in a chat from his Ann Arbor, Mich., home. "He showed such love for his instrument and the music. If I was struggling (in rehearsals) with putting a piece together, I just had to look at Bob (and) the joy and satisfaction that should prevail at all times in an orchestra would return. I want to thank him for that. He was a true friend and a wonderful role model."

Along with his wife and Barnum Museum Director Kathy Maher, Genualdi for many years organized and produced the national Jenny Lind Competition and its associated concerts, presented for decades in honor of Lind, a soprano, who was promoted in the United States on an 1850s' tour by P.T. Barnum. The concerts would feature the American winner as well as the champion of a similar contest in Sweden.

Unfortunately, the festival canceled its affiliation with the event last year.

But on Monday morning, Maher received word that the Swedish Jenny Lind will indeed come to Bridgeport for a concert this summer "like the way Barnum did it." There will be no American competition, but at least the Lind name will remain alive in Bridgeport.

"So sad I didn't get to tell Bob we found a way to keep up with the Swedes"; Bob would have been so happy, Maher added.

Latest comments

17.06 | 18:00

Hi, Yes I am still working in CT but am cutting back. Feel free to contact ...

17.06 | 14:40

Are you currently working in CT. If so I would like to use your education ...

15.06 | 20:43

Our battles were fierce but always cordial and a handshake from...

15.06 | 19:03

Yes, Colleen, I remember him as a true gentleman who led with respect...