The Bohemians, one of the premier musicians’ clubs in the world, celebrated 802 honor member, pianist and conductor Abba Bogin on May 8 at its annual gala dinner.
Bogin, who is currently the club’s president, told Allegro that he was, “flattered, but also slightly embarrassed” to be so honored.
Each year, the club chooses one or more prominent musicians to celebrate. Recent honorees have included the late Anna Moffo, the members of the Emerson String Quartet, the duo William Bolcom and Joan Morris, and the pianist Leon Fleisher.
Bogin is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and won the Walter W. Naumburg Award and the Philadelphia Orchestra Youth Competition while still a student there. He began a far-reaching career of classical solo and concerto performances throughout the world, and eventually began conducting concerts and opera, as well as crossing over to Broadway and light opera.
The Bohemians (a/k/a The New York Musicians Club) was founded in 1907 by the eminent pianist Rafael Joseffy. He joined with some friends and esteemed colleagues to form a private club for musicians.
The historical records of the group read like a “Who’s Who” of musical artists of the 20th Century, including Toscanini, Kreisler, Heifetz, Caruso Horowitz, Merrill and Rubinstein.
The membership was originally limited to 50, but quickly expanded, and now includes hundreds. Most are professional musicians but there are also some associate members who are in related fields, and some who are simply avid music-lovers.
Members enjoy monthly concerts followed by a social gathering. These are held at the Kosciuszko Foundation on East 65th Street.
The performers are prominent musicians, many of whom are Local 802 members. Among the artists who have recently played are Aaron Rosand, Jerry Grossman, Seymour Lipkin, Rebecca Young, Carol Wincenc, Abby Simon, the Ethel quartet and Elmar Olivira.
Following the music, members have a chance to meet the artists. (Most musicians will tell you that such networking may well be the number-one key to success.)
Many years ago the club established the Musicians’ Foundation as its charitable arm. The mission of the foundation is to provide help to destitute, ill and aging performers in all branches of the industry.
The club is celebrating its 100th anniversary next year with some very special events now being planned. “We invite new members to join us,” said Bogin. “We need to pass the torch to many more colleagues, and especially to younger musicians.”
Bogin added that he would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in becoming a member. He may be reached at AbbaBogin@aol.com or (212) 663-4198.