Eleanor Sokoloff

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Eleanor Sokoloff
Sokoloff in 2015
Background information
Birth nameEleanor Blum
Born(1914-06-16)June 16, 1914
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
OriginCleveland Institute of Music
Curtis Institute of Music
DiedJuly 12, 2020(2020-07-12) (aged 106)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Eleanor Sokoloff (née Blum; June 16, 1914 – July 12, 2020) was an American pianist and academic who formed a piano duo with her husband, Vladimir Sokoloff. She taught piano on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music from 1936 until her death in 2020.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Sokoloff was the daughter of a barber. Her mother was an amateur singer and encouraged her daughter's musical interests. She began her studies with Ruth Edwards at the Cleveland Institute of Music at the age of eight. In 1931, she enrolled at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied piano with David Saperton and chamber music with Louis Bailly.[2]


Sokoloff later studied the duo-piano repertoire with Vera Brodsky and Harold Triggs[1] and eventually formed a duo team with her husband, pianist Vladimir Sokoloff. Vladimir was also on the piano faculty at Curtis and from 1938 to 1950 was the pianist for the Philadelphia Orchestra.[3] One of their daughters, Laurie, was the principal piccolist of the Baltimore Symphony for 47 years.[4] Their other daughter, Kathy, became director of development at the Settlement Music School.[1]

Eleanor joined the Curtis faculty in 1936, at first as an instructor to non-piano majors, and in 1950 became a full-fledged member of the piano faculty.[1] Since then, more than seventy-five of her students have been chosen to perform as soloists with the Philadelphia Orchestra.[2] Among her alumni are Hugh Sung,[5] Lambert Orkis, Susan Starr,[1] Claire Huangci,[6] Kit Armstrong, Craig Sheppard, Keith Jarrett, Sean Kennard, Jerome Lowenthal,[7] Terence Yung,[8] Leon McCawley, and Randall Hodgkinson.[1] In 2001, in recognition of her tenure, Sokoloff received the Curtis Alumni Award.[9] She turned 100 in June 2014 and was praised in a ceremony as "free of nostalgia for the good old days while still embodying the highest of golden-age standards".[1] She was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Curtis that same year.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Sokoloff died in Philadelphia of natural causes on July 12, 2020, at the age of 106.[1][10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Dobrin, Peter (July 12, 2020). "Eleanor Sokoloff, 106, who taught at Curtis Institute for more than eight decades, dies". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Eleanor Sokoloff". Curtis Institute of Music. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  3. ^ "Vladimir Sokoloff, 84, Pianist Who Accompanied the Famous". The New York Times. November 5, 1997. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  4. ^ Bassett, Joanna (March 2017). "Laurie Sokoloff's musical journey". Flutist Quarterly. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  5. ^ "Hugh Sung". Naxos. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  6. ^ Forsthoff, Christoph (2018). "Claire Huangci / Und nicht zu knapp". rondomagazin.de (in German). Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  7. ^ "Jerome Lowenthal Tells About His Five Famous Teachers and What I Learned From Them". Music Educators Association of New Jersey. Retrieved May 27, 2022.
  8. ^ "Terence Yung (Piano) - Short Biography". Bach Cantatas Website.
  9. ^ Dobrin, Peter (November 15, 2009). "Ebony and ivory – and longevity: A master's influence reverberates over 73 years at Curtis". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  10. ^ "Curtis Mourns the Death of Eleanor Sokoloff" (Press release). Curtis Institute of Music. July 13, 2020. Retrieved July 14, 2020.

External links[edit]