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Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra celebrates anniversary of founder’s 100th birthday with special guests, his favorite symphony, and lots of cake

On Friday, November 9 and Saturday, November 10, the Schuster Center will be the scene of festivities celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra founder and Conductor Emeritus Paul Katz (November 2, 1907- August 31, 1989). In celebration, the concerts will feature the works of Bizet, Rachmaninoff, and Beethoven, specifically the symphony that was Paul Katz’s personal favorite – Beethoven’s Symphony No.3, Eroica.

“Since this is the same week as the birth of our founder, Paul Katz,” DPO Music Director Neal Gittleman states, it seems only fitting that we pay special tribute to this amazing man. A major virtuoso on the violin, he gave up a promising career as a soloist to bring the gift of music to all of us here in Dayton. Our orchestra, and our city, owe Paul Katz a great debt of gratitude. I’m especially pleased that Nevin Katz, Paul’s son, will be able to join us on Saturday night.”

In celebration, the concerts will feature a display, entitled Origins, of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra History in a text-and-photo timeline on banners on the Orchestra Level in front of the Mead Theatre. There will also be display cases, with artifacts and photos, and framed historical photos, many of which illustrate the life of Paul Katz. Gleaned from the archives of Wright State University, the Dayton Metro Library, the DPO, and Katz’s co-workers, family, and friends, the items tell the unique story of a city, a man, and a musical legacy created in the midst of crisis.

“One of the memories I have of my father,” Nevin Katz, who is Clinical Professor of Surgery at The George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC., states, “is our annual trips to the small fishing village of Madaket on Nantucket Island, where Dad would work on the upcoming programs and go over the scores for the coming year. He had a wonderful musical mind and could hear the pieces in his mind by just looking at the score with all the lines of music for the orchestra,” Nevin – who will attend the Saturday, November 10 concert – recalls. “He would work on his interpretation, by conducting from the score. On many occasions, this was while we were out fishing in a small boat with an outboard motor. The line was in one of his hands as he conducted, and, as you can imagine, the piece suddenly got very exciting if a fish decided to bite! I am sure the Eroica was among the pieces he conducted in this setting.”

Starting at 6:30 pm each concert evening the Dayton Metro Library will operate Words & Music, a lobby-stop library kiosk in the Wintergarden. Concertgoers and other visitors will be able to select from, and check-out, a wide variety of books, CDs, and DVDs related to the evenings’ concerts, Paul Katz, Dayton history, and classical music. All that one needs to check-out any of the items is a Dayton Metro Library card. Users may return the items to any branch of the library; they may also sign up for – and receive – a library card if they do not have one.

At intermission each evening, each concertgoer will receive a piece of special birthday cake prepared for – and generously donated to – the DPO by Eva Christian, owner of Café Boulevard in the Oregon District and Cena Brazilian/Mediterranean Steak House at the Dayton Mall.

All of this is by way of the Orchestra’s and community’s remembering with fondness and gratitude the memory of Paul Katz, the man whose birthday gift to all of us was the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra.