Frank Ezra Levy

October 15, 1930April 23, 2017

Frank Ezra Levy, cellist and prolific composer, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, passed away on April 23rd after a stroke. He was 86.

Frank was born on October 15, 1930, in Paris, to china restorer and painter Else Hammerschlag and legendary Swiss pianist and composer Ernst Levy. After emigrating to the U.S. in 1939, he began his musical education in New York, studying cello. He earned his high school diploma from the High School of Music and Arts (now known as LaGuardia) in 1948, a B.S. from the Juilliard School in 1951, and an M.A. in Musicology from the University of Chicago in 1954. Early in his career, Frank taught at the New School and at Brooklyn College, and in 2008–2009 was Kean University’s first Composer-in-Residence. His career as a professional cellist took him to the St. Louis Symphony, the Feldman Chamber Music Society, and the Halifax Symphony before he settled in New York City. There, Frank played with the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic. He was principal cellist at Radio City Music Hall for 45 years and played in the pit orchestra for numerous Broadway shows. Even while earning his living as a cellist, he was always composing music. He has 239 published works, including 15 symphonies, 20 string quartets, and many other orchestral, vocal, and chamber works. Influenced by his father’s music and by his teacher Hugo Kauder, Frank developed a distinct musical language with an accessible idiom and is considered one of our most important modern non-avant-garde composers.

An avid reader, Frank enjoyed fiction, history, and current events. He had many interests outside of music, including cooking, travel, speaking French and German, and spending time with family and friends. He actively promoted his father's music, arranging both publications and performances.

Frank is survived by his wife, Barbara Pogul Rivlin; his daughters from his first marriage, to Audrey Flack, Hannah Marie Marcus and Melissa; his stepchildren Ken Rivlin (Renee) and Claire Rivlin (Patrick Speissegger); his step-grandchildren Madison, Alex, and Toby; his brother Matthys (Julie); his nieces Monica and Jennifer; and other cousins. He was also briefly married to Barbara Garofalo.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to your local chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Arrangements under the direction of Gutterman and Musicant Jewish Funeral Directors, Hackensack, NJ.


  • Funeral Service Tuesday, April 25, 2017
  • Burial Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Frank Ezra Levy

have a memory or condolence to add?

Marcel Richter

October 22, 2017

I am so sorry to hear about this only now! I admired Frank greatly for maintaining his creative drive and passion until the very end of his life. I owe him great gratitude for presenting my art during a concert featuring his Sonata Ricercare at the Woodmere Art Museum in 2008. I regret now not having visited Frank again during the last few years. My sincere condolences to Barbara and both families.

Michael Shapiro

May 1, 2017

Our sincere and heart-felt condolences to Frank's family and to Barbara and her family. Frank was one of my closest and dearest friends for more than 50 years. We had a close working relationship and friendship. What a shock it was to learn of his passing.

Mario DeCiutiis

April 24, 2017

So sorry and sad to hear about Frank.
It was just last week that Frank posted a comment on our Facebook page. It's always a shock when one gets news like this.

My sincere condolences to the Levy family and to Barbara

Mario and Connie DeCiutiis (fellow musician from Radio City Music Hall)

June Halper

April 24, 2017

My sincere condolences to the Levy family and to Barbara Rivlin and her family. A big loss to the families and to the world of music. He will be sorely missed.
June Halper