Loretta Dranoff dies, founder of two-piano festival

July 08, 2011
By Lawrence Budmen

Loretta Dranoff, the 89-year-old founder of the Murray Dranoff International Two-Piano Competition, died Monday, July 4 in New York City. She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in recent years. Dranoff passed away in the company of her daughters Stephanie, Carolyn and Leona.

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1922, Dranoff formed a duo piano team with her husband Murray and toured the country from 1946 to 1975 under the auspices of Columbia Artist Management’s Community Concerts. When her husband became ill in 1973, Dranoff moved to Miami and worked for the Dade County Public Schools where she established multiple instrument curriculum and introduced student recitals to the school district. After her husband’s death in 1985, Dranoff founded the Murray Dranoff Foundation and the two piano competition in his memory.

Now held every three years in Miami, the Dranoff was the first competition exclusively for two pianos and remains the most prestigious. Dranoff commissioned new duo keyboard scores for each installment of the competition. Morton Gould, John Corigliano, Paul Schoenfield, Ned Rorem, William Bolcom and Lowell Liebermann were among the composers whose works were introduced as part of the program.

In a series of occasional concerts by competition winners, Dranoff revived rarely heard concertos for two pianos and orchestra by Pau Bowles, Dinu Lipatti, Roy Harris, Darius Milhaud, and Max Bruch. She retired from her administrative position at the foundation in 2005 but continued to attend the competitions. Her work spawned a reawakening of interest in the duo and four hand repertoire.

Memorial details are yet to be announced

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