Obituary: Janet Wolfe, founder of NYC Housing Authority Symphony, 101

Posted on: December 8, 2015

In Tuesday’s (12/8) New York Times, Margalit Fox writes that Janet Wolfe, founder of the New York City Housing Authority Symphony, died at her home in New York City on November 30. She was 101. Wolfe “had intended to be an actress, later worked as a dance instructor [and numbered] among her friends and acquaintances the likes of Eartha Kitt, Shelley Winters, Farley Granger, Max Roach, Luciano Pavarotti, Mario M. Cuomo and Edward I. Koch…. In 1971, divorced and in need of a job, [Wolfe] petitioned an acquaintance at the Housing Authority to give her one. ‘Could you start a symphony orchestra?’ he asked. Ms. Wolfe, who neither played an instrument nor read music, agreed; the orchestra gave its first concert the next year. From that day to this, the Housing Authority Symphony … has played in the courtyards of city housing projects, in public parks and at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. The orchestra performs the standard repertoire but highlights the work of minority composers. Most of its members belong to minorities…. To Ms. Wolfe, the orchestra was a tool for social justice…. Last year, the Housing Authority Symphony held a gala 100th-birthday tribute to Ms. Wolfe at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall.” She is survived by her daughters, Alisa Matlovsky and Deborah Matlovsky.

Posted December 8, 2015