Ever since meeting Joe Patrych in person back in 1979, I was struck by passion for the piano and pianists, and his determination to preserve live performances. As his knowledge and insights evolved, his hobby likewise morphed into a profession. Over time, Joe’s home studio became a congenial yet state-of-the-art haven for recording artists, ranging from budding competition contestants to seasoned artists. Nothing got past Joe’s astute ears, yet he knew how to make each client comfortable and how to inspire their best work under studio conditions. As such, Joe was more of a mentor to generations of young pianists than some of their teachers.
The life of a pianist can be lonely and isolating, yet Joe encouraged connecting more than competition, and brought the piano community together in many ways. Joe’s innovative radio show Concert Grande that he co-hosted on WFUV with Bruce Posner from 1977 to 1993 showcased emerging young pianists and historic icons alike. His “Piano Geek” Zoom meetings provided the best online keyboard hangout during Covid’s darkest days. As New York opened up, Joe’s Klavierhaus concert series helped scores of pianists to find their footing. We will miss him.
Composer, Pianist, and Reviewer for Gramophone Magazine
ODE TO JOE:
Where does one begin when trying to remember Joseph Patrych ( Our Joe )?
He was an individual so unique that he defies description. For those of us in the “Piano World” he was a walking encyclopedia. If one needed to know about an historical performance, the number of performances of any given repertoire, the timings of any recording, the dates of any concert given over the last decades, the pirated performances of any great pianist, plus the knowledge of recording in the most high fidelity of anyone in this country, Joe was there with all necessary details. Besides all this, he was a loyal friend. He was the lover of the piano and all those that played it. He was also the fiercest of critics of anyone in the music world. He was always up to date on any up and coming young artist and happy to lend his support. He was certainly a man of strong character and opinion on many subjects. All in all, a man who truly was loved and remains irreplaceable.
Concert pianist, piano faculty, Mannes College, Founder/Artistic Director, IKIF
Words cannot describe the sense of loss of Joe Patrych’s passing. Joe Patrych was the kindest friend, always positive and encouraging. I had the fortune of working on two commercial recordings with him, on top of countless hours of various recording projects over the years. Many of students were also lucky enough to have been recorded by Joe.
Joe had the most funny sense of humor. I always felt positive and happy around him. He had the talent of bringing out the best out of people and I could always just be myself around him. He helped generations of young pianists and his knowledge of the piano literature was truly remarkable.
Joe, you will be sorely missed in my heart. Rest in peace.
Concert pianist, top prizewinner of Arthur Rubinstein Competition
Founder/Artistic Director, PYPA Festival
I can only echo what I know so many others have said about Joe Patrych. In our 52 years as friends Joe’s singular focus was on maximizing the time he spent, every day, doing the things he loved, and I think we would all of us agree that, at that, he was spectacularly successful. Joe’s world was music, in the literal sense of sound and video recording, producing, editing, mastering, archiving and restoration, but, in a more metaphorical sense, he “engineered” a world of music through his wide, interconnected and growing network of friends and colleagues. Joe has left an indelible mark on the people who knew him, and on the recording industry in general. His expertise, curiosity and intelligence, coupled with his big-hearted, open and always positive personality, made him a standout among his peers. I would go as far as to say that if a young Joseph Patrych were granted, through some magical circumstance, foreknowledge of his demise, the life he would go on to live would be largely unchanged from the life we know him to have led. Hats off to Joe for enriching us with his presence while he lived and for being the kind of person the memory of whom is etched in each of us, warm memories, filled with good humor, and substance.
Pianist and Archivist
Writing about Joe in past tense…Hard to believe.
Joe had a greater-than-life personality. It is somewhat ironic to say that now considering how quickly and early we lost him.
He lived life on his terms, giving everything he had in him to people, to music and to his work. He had a brilliant mind, quick and sharp. In many ways, in his 68 years he lived more life than I could imagine, his days were longer than the days of many other people, as if he had more souls.
He had relentless energy and vitality, sense of humor, emotional generosity, patience, dedication, and capacity for deep and abiding friendship more than anyone I had known. He was the friend that would come through for you in time of need and go the extra miles and beyond, no questions asked, and not only when it was convenient. His giving and caring didn’t know boundaries, and it gave him purpose and joy to make others feel better, to feel good about themselves.
He was one of a kind, real, authentic, honest.
He brought people together, and the family he created was never too big to expand more.
For someone who had no children of his own, he had a giant family and was a parent in every fiber of his being- the safe place, the support system, the unconditional loyalty and devotion.
Since we had met, I started having him with me in almost every concert in NYC, as if we were parts of one team. He also knew every note most of the time!! I was waiting to hear his feedback soon after, he knew music.
During the 20 years of our friendship, For 8 years, I was living under his roof, being his tenant. We covered every subject of conversation I could think of, and knew each other’s routine very well (and he knew exactly which passage of Ligeti I was practicing non-stop!).
Some of my favorite years were when we would have coffee together every morning either in Arthur Avenue, or he would make me some upstairs, between his edits and sessions. He knew it was my practicing fuel, and I knew he would always come through. At night he often picked me up in the city with my grocery bags, and on the way back to the Bronx he would stop by his regular ice-cream place. He was low-maintenance but he had these simple pleasures. In the car we listened to music, while he would conduct or swing his fingers as he likes to do…pretending he was the one playing 🙂
He stood by me in some of the most pivotal moments in my life as a person and as a musician. He was my family. He visited Israel and stayed with my family there. He was the person who made my parents sleep better at night, knowing I had a home away from home. He would call my mother in Israel every single birthday. He made me and others feel special. This of course does not make me special, because he was that rock for quite a few young musicians that needed the extra gig, the extra ride, the extra recommendation, extra money, extra hand, advice, run-through, a trusted adult figure, a dog-sitter, and whatever was needed- he seemed to never run out of extra to give….
I will miss him a lot, the urge to call him 5 times a day some days, and it would still be okay, that chance to be completely direct and free to speak up what’s on my mind without being judged, knowing he is there to listen, and that at the end of that conversation, I will feel better and less alone.
I hope he is not alone and in peace.
Concert Pianist, Piano faculty, Longy School of Music
Joe Patrych and I had been close friends since we met at his studio decades ago and then had dinner in a restaurant nearby, in order to continue our conversation. We soon found out that we had similar tastes on pianists and even agreed on who our favorite pianist was. Since then, we spoke on the phone almost daily and, eventually, Joe undertook two projects at Manhattan School of Music, where I have been teaching since 1969, related to various performances of me and more than 40 students of the Twinkle variations by Mozart and the 3-hour celebration of my 85th birthday in 2021 featuring performances by me and my 85 students and alumni.
It was because of his taking on such responsibilities that our friendship had its ups and downs. He was a master at promising the impossible (“It will be ready tonight”) and then find very imaginative excuses for not delivering. I have never screamed at anyone as much and as loud. How boring life is without him! I he updated me on the vicissitudes of the piano world without me having to research it. He knew everyone worth knowing and everyone wanted to share secrets and gossip with him. He shared many with me.
Joe was unique. I miss him so much!
Piano faculty, Manhattan School of Music