Folks, Claire is going to be out of the loop for a while. Her grandmother passed away yesterday, and she and her family have her affairs to sort out. Here is a brief biography of Sina Berlinski that was on Wikipedia at one point, and here is an interview with her regarding her late husband, the composer Herman Berlinski.
Sina Berlinski (née Goldfein) (Leipzig, Germany, 27 August 1910) is an American pianist, piano teacher and voice coach, now in retirement.
Her husband was the late Herman Berlinski (1910—2001), a composer, organist, pianist, musicologist and choir conductor. Her son, David (born 1942), is a philosopher, educator and author of fiction and non-fiction; and has two grandchildren, Mischa Berlinski, a novelist and Claire Berlinski, a novelist, biographer, freelance journalist and travel writer.
Sina Goldfein was born in Leipzig of Jewish parents in 1910, attended the Orthodox Jewish Ephraim Carlebach School and then commenced music studies at the Leipzig Conservatory in 1927.
There she developed sound keyboard skills under the direction of Robert Teichmüller and her long-interest in lieder was enhanced by recitals and teaching by leading mezzo-soprano Elena Gerhardt, then head of the conservatory's singing department. Later she was auditioned and became a member of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Choirunder the directorship of Karl Straube. There she had the experience of singing memorable works such as J.S. Bach's St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B Minor, and Beethoven's "Choral" Symphony. As a result of her experience, she developed a strong interest in chamber music, song and accompaniment, and this was to shape later the direction of her professional career.
In 1933, as the National Socialist party gained power in Germany, she fled to Paris. There she re-met Herman Berlinski whom she had known both at school and the conservatory, and they were married in 1934.
In Paris she studied piano with Alfred Cortot at l'École Normale de Musique, but was forced to leave France with her husband in 1940 following the fall of France to the Germans and the subsequent collaboration of the Vichy régime in expelling Jews and other "undesirables".
The Berlinskis arrived in New York City in 1941, established their home in Manhattan, and their son David was born the following year. They continued to live in New York, where her husband worked and studied, until he was appointed in 1963 to a position in Washington, D.C..
Right from the time of her arrival in the US, Sina Berlinski began giving private piano lessons, often spending long parts of each day travelling so she could do so. Later she undertook teaching responsibilities, particularly the training of accompanists, with the American University and The Catholic University of America. She also did extensive work with singers, with a special focus on the relationship between the music and the text.