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Former orchestra conductor dies at 79

Published March 7, 2007


SPRING HILL - Dr. Marvin Rosenberg, the man credited with helping transform the Hernando Symphony Orchestra from a fledgling community orchestra into a confident, well-honed performance ensemble during the early 1990s, died Monday March 5, 2007 at Oak Hill Hospital. He was 79.

Over the course of Dr. Rosenberg's six-year tenure as conductor, the orchestra expanded in both size and musical scope. Until his arrival, the ensemble performed mostly show tunes and popular standards. However, Dr. Rosenberg believed the orchestra was capable of taking on more advanced fare.

"He placed a great emphasis on symphonic music," said Lee Cave, a longtime clarinetist with the orchestra. "He inspired musicians to work harder and to progress beyond what (the orchestra) had always been. We went from playing Broadway themes to performing Rachmaninoff."

A classically trained percussionist with a master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music, Dr. Rosenberg's knowledge of music made for an impressive calling card when he joined the orchestra in 1989 as a tympanist.

Upon accepting the role of conductor and music director the following year, Dr. Rosenberg embarked on an ambitious plan to improve not just the orchestra's performance level, but its stature in the community.

"We went from performing mostly in churches and nursing homes to performing in auditoriums," Cave recalled. "Suddenly, it meant something to say you played in the symphony."

In addition, the new conductor also wanted to create a welcoming atmosphere for younger players. Dr. Rosenberg found a willing partner in violinist Charlotte Murrin, who went on to start a school specializing in violin instruction.

Mrs. Murrin, who died in March 2006, also worked with Dr. Rosenberg to create an orchestra-backed scholarship program to help low-income youngsters buy instruments.

Before retiring to Spring Hill from Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1986, Dr. Rosenberg enjoyed a life of achievement. He obtained his doctorate degree in education at Nova Southeastern University in Florida. After several years teaching music in the New York City school system, he took on the role of assistant principal at Isaac Bildersee Intermediate School 68 in Brooklyn.

Away from teaching, he also found time to perform as percussionist with such notable ensembles as the Longines Symphonette and the Percy Faith Orchestra.

In addition to his love for symphonic music, Dr. Rosenberg was an avid jazz fan. He drummed with a popular Spring Hill Dixieland band and served as arranger and music director for several musical productions at Stage West Community Playhouse.

Citing health problems, Dr. Rosenberg resigned as conductor of the Hernando Symphony at the end of the 1994-95 season. He issued a warning to his successor.

"Our orchestra is all volunteers, and they're not going to stand for a tyrant," he told a Times reporter.

Bruce Rosenberg said that his father left the orchestra with a satisfied sense of accomplishment. Later, he and his wife, Sondra, devoted much of their time as volunteer advocates for elderly nursing home patients through the state's ombudsman program.

"My father was a compassionate man," said Bruce Rosenberg. "He cared about people, elderly people, young people. He wanted very much to help in any way he could."

Dr. Rosenberg is survived by his wife, Sondra, son, Bruce, and daughter, Debra, all of Spring Hill; and also by a brother, Bert, and a sister, Sandra Daspit, both of California. A graveside memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. Thursday at Grace Memorial Gardens in Hudson.

Logan Neill can be reached at or (352) 848-1435.

[Last modified March 7, 2007, 06:49:31]

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