The Many Lives of Noah Greenberg
Noah Greenberg’s life story reads like a gritty Jack London or Theodore Dreiser romance set against the backdrop of New York’s political and cultural scene. Born and raised in the Bronx the child of immigrant parents Greenberg had no education beyond high school and absolutely no formal musical training. Yet in the 1950s he rose to musical celebrity as co-founder and director of the legendary New York Pro Musica and became the driving force behind the American early-music revival.
Growing up in the Depression Greenberg devoted himself to radical socialism and labor activism. In World War II he worked in the California shipyards and spent six years in the Merchant Marine. Music always mattered but the turning point in his life was the 1950 Prades Festival from which he came away convinced that he must make his career in music.
He put together an ensemble of engaging young singers and instrumentalists featuring the astonishing countertenor voice of Russell Oberlin. By the mid-fifties lively expressive interpretations of medieval Renaissance and Baroque works had won Greenberg and the Pro Musica national acclaim. In 1958 their presentation of the medieval liturgical drama The Play of Daniel made them internationally famous. At the height of his and Pro Musica’s success Noah Greenberg died suddenly in New York at the age of 47. In Pied Piper James Gollin tells the story of Greenberg’s tragically short life placed in the rich context of America’s rise to postwar cultural prominence.
James Gollin author of four books and many articles for New York Magazine Fortune The Nation and The New York Times has created entertainments featuring a fictional early music group The Antiqua Players.Winner of the Deems Taylor Award for 2002 given by ASCAP.