Lucy Rowan Mann, dean of a classical music first prize, dies at 100

Lucy Rowan Mann, whose Walter W. Naumburg Foundation guidance and influential awards helped propel a string of great classical music careers for 50 years, died Jan. 16 at her Manhattan home. She was 100 years old.

The cause was Covid-19, said his daughter, Lisa Mann Maotta.

Ms. Mann was the executive director of the foundation, which she led with her husband, Robert Mann, who was its president and founding first violinist of the famous Juilliard String Quartet. She handled administration and fundraising, while Mr. Mann, who died in 2018, focused on the musical aspects of the competition and judging.

But Ms. Mann, who started at the Naumburg Foundation in 1972 and continued until this year, did more than office work. She programmed performances for the young winners of Naumburg, advertised for them and even organized trips. The couple was a well-oiled machine; Carol Wincenc, who won the inaugural Naumburg Flute Competition in 1978, said in an interview that the Manns showed “first-class teamwork”.

Naumburg laureates who have gone on to prominent careers include, in addition to Ms. Wincenc, solo violinists Leonidas Kavakos and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg; Frank Huang, solo violin of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra; Pianists André-Michel Schub, Stephen Hough and Anton Nel; clarinetist Charles Neidich; and cellist Colin Carr. Singers who have won include Julia Bullock, Dawn Upshaw and Lucy Shelton.

Music competitions are often key elements in the construction of a career, offering cash prizes, concert dates and public validation, but they can be in pressure and are often criticized to enhance the technical brilliance rather than personality.

But, Mr. Mann wrote in a 1985 New York Times article, “A contest is as musical, human and culturally significant as it gets.” The musicians said that Ms. Mann’s administration and the attention she bore to competitors brought this humanity.

The Naumburg Foundation, established in 1925, began administering annual prizes in 1926. Robert Mann himself won a Naumburg prize for violin in 1941.

Award categories rotate between instruments each year. Initially they included pianists, cellists and violinists, but the competition has expanded to include singers, chamber ensembles and flautists, and it also features other instruments on a rotating basis. The Naumburg 2022 contest will be reserved for saxophonists.

The winners of the first prize receive $ 25,000 and two recitals in New York and are ordered a work.

Ms. Mann has also given a mission to raise awareness of the US composers of the twentieth century. In his office of the Manhattan School of Music, where the Naumburg Foundation is based, it was known to organize birthday celebrations for contemporary composers, sweehing students with candy to encourage them to attend and learn about the history of music.

Lucille Ida Zeitlin was born on June 20, 1921 in Brooklyn. She and her two siblings were raised by their mother, Rose Kuschner. Their father, Irving Allen Zeitlin, was a nightclub director. “My father was a scoundrel and a juple rider,” said Ms. Mann in Times in 2013. “He has never been there.”

She attended Brooklyn Public High School and went to Brooklyn College to study acting, but dropped out and moved to Washington. There she studied acting with Walter Kerr, who taught at the Catholic University of America and later became a theater critic for The New York Times. During World War II, she held various secretarial positions in the War Department and elsewhere.

Her marriage to Mark Rowan, who served in the military and later became an English teacher, ended in divorce after eight years.

She returned to New York and in 1947 became the director of concerts at the Juilliard School. She met Mr. Mann while also leading the Juilliard String Quartet. They married in 1949.

In addition to their work at the Naumburg Foundation, the Manns performed together in the Lyric Trio: Ms. Mann told folk stories by Rudyard Kipling and Hans Christian Andersen to music played by Mr. Mann and pianist Leonid Hambro. Eric Salzman, reviewing a Lyric Trio concert at Carnegie Hall for The Times in 1962, called their performance “witty, sharp, and ravishing.”

Their son, Nicholas Mann, who is also a violinist, occasionally performed with them as part of the Mann family-centric Baca Ensemble, for which Robert Mann composed. In a 1986 Times review of a performance by the band at Carnegie Hall, Allen Hughes wrote, “Miss Rowan is a persuasive reader, Mr. Mann’s scores are earnest and well-worked, and words and music coexisted lovingly in These performances.

Ms. Mann was also an artist: she began painting as a hobby, but she became more serious later in her life, culminating with retrospectives of her luminous abstract works at Tenri Cultural Institute in Manhattan in 2017 and 2019.

In addition to his two children, Ms. Mann leaves in mourning five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Corina C. Butler