Joseph “Joe” Frederick Bloom, a beloved pianist, composer, coach, and teacher passed away at Kaiser Hospital on November 28, 2021, due to cardiac arrest following complications in surgery. It’s still hard to believe he’s gone.
Joe was born February 10, 1947, and was originally, proudly, staunchly from Brooklyn, NY. Friends noted that as a young man he seemed to have sought solace in touring around Brooklyn on his bicycle, especially Prospect Park, which to him was more beautiful than the Grand Canyon or any of the dramatic California landscapes that we so venerate, the coasts, vineyards, and forests. He even made a study of the man who designed that park, and the principles of his aesthetic. Joe’s father, Julius Bloom (deceased), was the lauded director of Carnegie Hall from 1960-1979. Julius was recognized for pushing Carnegie from its status as merely a venue into a freestanding entity that supported and produced artistic projects from all around the world, to become the acclaimed stage it is today. Joe credited his love of philosophy and his exposure to the greats of Western Classical Music to his father.
Rooted in Mill Valley for over 30 years, Joe was the heartbeat of countless musical projects in the Bay Area. Here he was known and admired as a piano teacher. His teaching generated in his students a passion for and aesthetic engagement with music, using tools that were personalized and ever-changing. During his life in California Joe professionally accompanied musicians from regional orchestras, choruses and ensembles, coached musicianship for all instruments and created programs for musical ear training, all while composing, teaching piano students, writing computer programs, and maintaining a blog to describe his extensive pedagogical work. This work he called Joe Bloom’s Piano Project will be maintained as a memorial site in the hope that it will continue to educate future artists. In 2019 he published his life’s work The Spectrum of the Arts: Time and Space in the Human Experience of Art, a philosophical tour of our interactive engagement with art in its varied forms.
Joe’s career as a pianist spanned continents and many stages. He performed both as a soloist and in collaboration with legendary performers including great names such as Frederica von State, Marilyn Horne, and Janet Baker. He taught and lectured at top colleges and mentored many students who have continued forward to have exciting academic and performative careers at schools like Juilliard, Oberlin, Cambridge, and many others.
Our caring, eccentric, talented, fiery, and sensitive friend was still so deeply enthralled with his creative projects at the time of his death. The most recent years have been a difficult time for many, particularly artists. And yet, some of us have found time to question, identify and eliminate the parts of our lives that have become nonessential. Joe often remarked that he felt as though he was beginning to do his best creative work, just in time for the world to be going berserk. Unfortunate timing which he braved courageously and with great tenacity. He taught us to celebrate the arts and to lean into one’s exquisitely personalized sensibilities. He will be missed.