A tribute to Bernice Horowitz

Volume 124, No. 3March, 2024

Bernice Horowitz, 102, passed away on January 3, 2024 after a brief illness. She had been a Local 802 member since 1943.

Bernice had a long and remarkable life. Born in Chicago on December 17, 1921 to Harry and Sarah Isbit, her musical talents were evident from an early age. She studied and loved playing piano, and won a piano competition as a teenager. She began studying harp in high school, also winning a harp competition during that time. She continued her musical studies at Northwestern University with eminent harpist Alberto Salvi, then transferred and completed her degree at Juilliard where she studied with renowned harpist Marcel Grandjany. She also met her future husband, Richard (Dick) Horowitz there. In a fond account of their meeting, Dick missed an acoustics class because of military service and borrowed Bernice’s notes; he got an A in the course — she got a B.

Dick went on to a legendary 66-year career as the principal timpanist of the Metropolitan Opera. (He died in 2015; read his obituary in Allegro here.)

In the early years of their marriage, Bernice prioritized raising her two sons over her professional career, but gradually returned to full-time performing in a number of Broadway and Off Broadway shows, including “The Fantasticks,” “Carnival,” “The Boys from Syracuse,” “By Jupiter,” and “Mame.” She got to meet Richard Rodgers, and she played the entire 15-year run of “A Chorus Line,” beginning in 1975. She also worked with the Village Light Opera Group and played for many weddings and bar mitzvahs.  True to her can-do attitude, she moved her own harps and turned more than a few heads as she drove them to gigs in her Volkswagen Beetle convertible.

Bernice was charming and delightful to be with, always warm, upbeat, a great listener, and a devoted friend. She was loved and admired by a wide circle of family, friends, and colleagues. She shared a wanderlust with her father and was always planning the next trip. She and her husband Dick traveled extensively, fascinated by their trips to South America, Europe, the Far East, and, at age 88, going on a safari in Africa. She was an avid reader of the New York Times, up on the latest news to the very end. She lives on in the hearts of all who knew her. She is survived by her sons Mark and Bob, her grandchildren Dave and Sarah, and her great-grandson Micah.