The Illustrious History of the Music Program in the

Great Neck Public Schools

  • Find YOURSELF in the Illustrious History of the Music Program in the Great Neck Public Schools

    Did you play or sing in any of the Bands, Orchestras or Choirs from Great Neck High School between 1928 and 1958? Or Great Neck North High School since 1958? Well, thanks to Genelle Taney (Class of 2003 and Principal Violist of the Symphony Orchestra), you can search the gallery of photographs and rosters of every Band, Orchestra and Choir dating from 1929 until the present. Concert programs date back to 1978. If you played or sang in one of these groups, you might find that some of your classmates were children of Morton Gould, Leo Kraft, Eddie Cantor, George M Cohan, Richard Tucker or Groucho Marx. Great Neck has been the home of an unusually large number of famous individuals including film maker Allan Miller (From Mao to Mozart, Bolero, Music From The Heart, Small Wonders), comedian and actor Alan King, comedian and Actor Andy Kaufman.

    Great Neck resident and professional bassist Bob Taffet has provide us with even more notables from this wonderful town of Great Neck:
    Leonard Rose, Cellist
    Benar Heifitz, Cellist
    Samuel Baron, Flutist
    Leonid Hambro – Concert Pianist (Had his own radio show on QXR, taught
    at Juilliard, President of CALARTS and concertized globally. He was also the pianist for the NY Philharmonic).
    Michael Rabin, violinist. His father, George, played in the Philharmonic.
    Noam Chomsky, Linguist and Philosopher
    Prof. Irwin Corey, Comedian
    Sid Ceasar, Comedian
    Marvin Hamlisch, award-winning composer
    Talia Shire, actress (“Yo, Adrienne” said Sylvester Stallone in Rocky). and the
    niece of the film director Francis Ford Coppola who is the nephew of the
    conductor, Anton Coppola taught conducting at the Manhattan School of Music
    Bernie Glow who
    was, through the 50’s and 60’s considered one of New York’s premiere trumpet players and was always first call on all major sessions when the recording industry thrived here. Their mother, Bernie’s wife, was a former Miss America.
    Bobby Rosengarden. drummer of the former leader of the Tonight Show Band, when the show originated out of New York.

    The web site:,_New_York

    offers a larger number of well-known individuals associated with Great Neck:

    People associated with Great Neck

    This web site was inspired by a visit to Mr. Rutkowski (Director of Instrumental Music, 1991-present) one school day afternoon in May 2000. An older gentleman and his wife entered room 218 while Mr. R was setting up for the Symphonic Band class. The man exclaimed, “I can’t believe it! That is where I sat!!” He pointed to the trumpet section of empty chairs and music stands. It turns out that this man was a 1947 graduate of Great Neck High School and played trumpet in the Band. At the time of this visit, he was living in Pittsburgh, PA and was in New York City on business. He decided to make the trip from Manhattan to Great Neck to show his wife the room that he remembered most about his high school years. Mr. R recalled the man began to name all the “kids” who sat in his section, even though they were then somewhere in their early 70’s.

    Playing in the band or orchestra or singing in the choir means that you had the chance to create MUSIC with your classmates everyday. You had a performance everyday. Students and teachers who passed room 218 or 116 without you knowing and heard you in your daily rehearsal. Visitors parking their cars in the parking lot outside heard your performance and made an initial judgment of the kind of school it was.

    There are many things you can do with MUSIC. You can compose it, perform it, conduct it, write about it, think about it. Thinking about music makes this art the most powerful of all. If you were separated from your instrument, from all your scores, from all your CDs, tapes and vinyl records of the music you love, you could still have music. You could hear your favorite, most beloved symphony, concerto, sonata or Beatles’ song, even if you were on some deserted island (as part of a national television series or not!). If all the CDs, tapes, LPs, scores and original manuscripts of Beethoven’s nine symphonies were somehow destroyed, there would be enough musicians that could reconstruct these masterpieces, rehearse them, perform them and record them all over again. Could we say that about any other work of visual art? If Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa were destroyed, could anyone truly reconstruct it? As necessary and monumental as all the arts are, this is what makes MUSIC so powerful.

    Take a trip down memory lane and visit the photos and rosters from the Arista Yearbooks that Genelle Taney scanned for us. Can you hear the melodies?