Augusta Scheiber was born on January 1, 1900, the youngest of four children of Joseph and Sarah Abramson, on New York’s Lower East Side. She showed an early interest in music and studied piano for many years with Samuel Chotzinoff. Later, she took master classes with Wanda Landowska. At nineteen, she traveled to Chicago as rehearsal pianist for the premiere of Sergei Prokofiev’s opera A Love for Three Oranges, to be performed by the Diaghilev Ballet.

A year later she married Israel Ben Scheiber, whom she had met at Madison House, the settlement house of the New York Ethical Society. They had three children, Walter (born 1922), Josephine (Jodie, 1925-1990), and Sarah (now Sarah Evans, born 1928). They divided their time between their home in Greenwich Village and a country home in Putnam Valley, NY, near Madison House’s affiliated summer camp, Camp Madison-Felicia.

In 1929 she began what would be an active performance career with recitals at the Civic Club and Madison House. Throughout the 1930’s she performed with the Schubert Music Society, at the Brooklyn Museum, the New York Society for Ethical Culture and other venues, and in Putnam Valley with the Albany Federal Orchestra, as well as playing a number of live radio concerts beginning in 1935. She gave her first concert at New York’s Town Hall in 1937.

Scheiber performed regularly with violinist Dorothy Minty, and accompanied other artists, including sopranos Carmen Reuben, Rose Walter and Lillian Isaacson. A generous ensemble musician, she performed the Brahms Piano Quartets and the Franck Piano Quintet with the Perolé Quartet, and in other chamber works with ad hoc ensembles.

She performed solo concerts in Philadelphia at University of Pennsylvania’s Irvine Auditorium, with the Pennsylvania W.P.A. Symphony (1942); at Colby College in Waterville, Maine (annually from 1944-1947); at Hampton College in Hampton, Virginia (1950); and at the Phillips Gallery in Washington, D.C. (1959), and in other venues. Beginning in 1950, she performed regularly at the Chatham Square Music School in New York, where she was on the piano faculty.

She gave many of her performances to benefit charitable causes, from Madison House to the American Friends of Spanish Democracy (in a 1937 concert with Dorothy Minty).  In 1941, she and her husband Ben organized a series of concerts in their home to benefit the Greek, Russian and Chinese Children’s War Relief Funds, and in 1942, she played a recital for two pianos with Alexander Laszlo to benefit Chinese and Russian War Relief. Her last concert, on April 11, 1975, at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, was for the benefit of Camp Madison-Felicia.

Augusta Scheiber died in New York on February 26, 1993, leaving two surviving children, seven grandchildren and six (now eleven) great-grandchildren.

 

 

 

Augusta Scheiber at the piano

 

Augusta Scheiber, Pianist   c 2011 all rights reserved