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Joseph Leary

My Violin Teacher
Joseph Leary

by Janice Tucker Rhoda

I enjoyed studying violin with "Mr. Leary" from 5th through 9th grades. This was prior to my eight years of study with Eric Rosenblith at New England Conservatory Preparatory School and College.

Joseph Augustus Leary was the most popular violin teacher of the North Shore in Massachusetts beginning in the 1960s. He was the founder and conductor of both the Marblehead Community Orchestra and Glen Magna Strings. He was the concertmaster of the Reading Symphony for many years retiring at age 80, and played in the North Shore Philharmonic under conductor and BSO violinist Rolland Tapley. He also played in the Salem Philharmonic with conductor Alan Hawryluk, the Paul Madore Chorale and Polymnia Choral Society of Melrose.

He owned several precious violins including a valuable Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume and Nicolas Gagliano. Violin was his main instrument, however he played the piano, viola, cello, tuba and trombone well. Owning one of the most extensive collections of chamber music, he frequently invited students and friends to his home for afternoon or evening soirees. If needed he would play the piano, viola or cello parts of many difficult chamber music works.

Mr. Leary accompanied me on piano at all my violin lessons, improvising accompaniments for my etudes as well. Upon entering the room at the beginning of each lesson he would play a jazz violin tune asking me to tell him the name of it. As I was taking my violin out of its case, he asked me to drill him on the history of Baseball. He always knew which two teams had played the World Series since it began in 1903, including the team that won. Music theory on the chalkboard and piano chord ear and pitch training was next, followed by scales, etudes, concerti or solo pieces. He was a great teacher to have in my formative years of playing.

He graduated from Lynn English High School and the Boston Conservatory of Music. He was also a veteran of World War II having served in the US Army in Belgium and France. He received the Bronze Star for heroism and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Mr. Leary was born on March 28, 1913 and passed away on August 11, 2008 at the age of 95.

Mr. Leary taught hundreds of students on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Many are professional musicians today. If you know of anyone who would like to be added to the list below, please let me know. ~Janice

Joseph Leary's Violin Students, Chamber Music & Orchestra Friends:

Janice Tucker Rhoda, Alan Hawryluk, Dorothy Loyte Blackman, Arlene Germain, Ron DiRito, Janet DiRito, Catherine Stanton, Dorothea Frangos, Betty Widerski, Casimir Widerski, Livia Widerski, Cathy Goode, Joan Huntley Eaton, Danny DeVito, Joan Brayton, Steven Burgess, Mary Ann Bodnaruk Bishop, Arthur Barry, Joel Barry, William Tracy, Elaine Xenelis, Larry Young, Robert Marra, Curbina Santoliquido, Gladys Ohlson, Ellen Cornell Culp, Miriam Adamo, Margarita Aguilar, Ray Albert, Billy Alfond, Elaine Armstrong, Lawrence Auger, Wendy Bailey, Helen Bagley, Walter Barton, Stephen Bellin, Virginia Birnie, Linda Boivin, Eugene Brown, Jacqueline Brown, Laura Bjorklund, Cheryl Grant Campbell, Elaine Chapin, Julia Chaplik, Christopher Ciullo, Marion Clark, David Cleary, Sally Cleary, Kevin Connolly, Phyllis Copeland, Helen Craig, Ann DiTondo, Tom Fabonio, Mary Jane Fabonio, Jane Farrell , James Feldman, John Finnegan, Kathleen Flanigan, Jean Flood, Phyllis Forsyth, Thomas Frary, Jeane Frost, Nancy Gardner, Paula Goodridge, Aldene Eaton Gordon, Ardeth Grant, David Grappi, Judy Greet, Herbert Griffin, Walter Haimberger, Nancy Hamlin, Eddie Harpin, Mary Hennessey, Kathy Hill, Patricia Homsy, Huntington Howard, Denise Hudnall, Georgianna Isbell, Edward Keazirian, Josephine Kennedy, Christopher Kent, Peter Kent, Walter Kisiel, Mary Klug, David Kolhonen, Irene Leamon, Lynne LeBlanc, Dorothy Loyte, Edward Mahoney, Barbara Maitland, Brenda Marquis, Carolyn Marquis, Carol Martin, David Marakis, George McCallum, Doris McVann, Edith Mehaffey, Paul Meo, Betty Moore, Bob Nersasian, Paul O'Callaghan, Catherine Oger, Elizabeth O'Hare, Joyce Perelli, Daniel Potash, Naomi Powers, Dianne Prentiss, Barney Rabin, Judy Rabin, Susan Raymond, David Richardson, Claire Rosenberg, Sasha Rosenberg, Joy Scott, Laurie Scott, Ralph Shute, George Snow, Judy Soule, Linwood Soule, Louise Spracklin, Louis Stella, Phyllis Swirka, Judy Takata, Jean Thibeault, Ryan Thomson, Mimi Tutihasi, Roger Watson, Jane Weiss, Heber Wells, Susan Whetmore, Joseph White, Larry Whitney and Donald Wilkins.