Brooklyn Mourns Olga Bloom, of Bargemusic Fame

Bargemusic founder Olga Bloom holds her violin — or her viola — and looks at her music, getting ready to perform. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Her Passion for Music Revitalized Fulton Ferry

FULTON FERRY LANDING — Brooklyn residents and music lovers from throughout the metropolitan area are mourning Olga Bloom, founder of Bargemusic, the floating concert venue that has been part of New York City’s music scene since 1977.

Bloom, who was also a concert violinist and violist, died in a Manhattan nursing home on Thanksgiving at age 92. Her death was confirmed Friday by current Bargemusic director Mark Peskanov.

Bloom was 57 years old in 1976 when she gave up her performing career to create Bargemusic, although she later performed there for special events.

She converted an old, 1899-vintage coffee barge into a concert hall moored to the Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn. She once said she wanted to create a place for musicians to perform in an environment that would nurture their creativity.

In particular, Bargemusic has been a home to chamber music, meaning classical music written for a small group of performers in an intimate setting. The barge also was one of the pioneer institutions in attracting visitors to Fulton Ferry Landing, which was still a kind of no man’s land when she opened it.

Eventually, Bargemusic grew to present 220 concerts a year. These concerts feature works by well-known classical composers like Beethoven, Haydn, Chopin and Mozart as well as names that the average person may not recognize, such as Salonen, Corigliano, Musto and Moravec.

Several years ago, Phoebe Neidl, a reporter and editor for the Eagle, wrote an article on Bargemusic and interviewed several musicians. “This is as intimate as it gets,” cellist Nick Tzavaras of the Shanghai Quartet was quoted as saying. “It’s what chamber music should be — much more personal. Not to mention the spectacular view.”

“I enjoy the atmosphere. It’s very free and creative,” said Niklas Sivelov, a pianist from Copenhagen, was quoted as saying in the same article. “In bigger halls, there’s a certain expectation. It’s more uptight. This place is about the music.”

Bloom pulled back from administrative duties in 2005 and gave control of the concert series to Peskanov, a Juilliard graduate and accomplished violinist in his own right. She retired from Bargemusic in 2008.

The former Olga Bayrack was born on April 2, 1919, and grew up in Boston, according to the New York Times. After studying with Jacques Hoffman of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she moved to New York and played with the American Symphony Orchestra as well as in Broadway pit orchestras. Her second husband, Tobias Bloom, with whom she played in the NBC Symphony Orchestra, died in 1975.

— Associated Press contributed to this article

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Filed under Arts, Brooklyn People, DUMBO, Obituaries

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