June 23, 2002, was officially celebrated as “Julius and Ruth Grossman Day” in Queens. A proclamation issued by Borough President Helen M. Marshall saluted them on the occasion of their birthdays (Julius will be 90 in November, and Ruth recently turned 75).
The proclamation noted that, “through the years, the world has been filled with the melody of their talents, touching thousands of Queens residents with the sweet sonatas of the music. The Grossmans have lifted the spirit of our borough, and we wish them many more years of health and happiness together!”
A member of Local 802 since 1946, Julius Grossman has taught music to generations of students; he began teaching in the public schools in the late 1930s. He was one of the founders of the High School of Performing Arts, and played a role in planning LaGuardia High School before his retirement.
His major love has been conducting. During World War II he led the 33rd Infantry Division band and then, back in New York, organized the Municipal Concerts Orchestra, now known as the Julius Grossman Orchestra.
“We presented concerts with a full-sized orchestra and played in virtually every park in New York during the summers,” Grossman said. “And it was all free, except for benefit concerts at Town Hall and Alice Tully Hall.” Soloists of the stature of Murray Perahia and Pinchas Zuckerman have performed with the Municipal Concerts Orchestra.
Grossman also organized a chamber group of 11 players to play in community and senior centers, hospital, jails and houses of worship – everywhere people gather. “We must have played 1,600 concerts since I began in 1957,” he told Allegro.
“Julius has presented hundreds of free concerts over the years,” said 802 Vice-President Erwin Price. “And he’s always had MPTF funding, along with his other sources of funding. He’s been a very strong union supporter, always used union musicians. He’s a very fine person, and a fine musician. The recognition he and Ruth have received from Borough President Marshall couldn’t be better deserved.”