Obituary for Kurt Grishman
Kurt Grishman, a prominent member of the Hudson Valley classical music community for decades after emigrating from Nazi Germany in the 1940’s, passed away peacefully on August 5 at the age of 97, while residing at Poughkeepsie’s Lutheran Care Center. He was a long time violinist, conductor, and classical music impresario, in addition to raising a family, and pursuing his profession as a toolmaker and his interests in amateur photography, clockmaking and sailing.
Beloved father, grandfather, and friend, he enriched the Hudson Valley through his unwavering quest to bring music into the lives of its residents. He was one of the original members of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, playing second violin with the orchestra for over fifty years and was instrumental in hiring Claude Monteux as conductor. In 1978 he founded and was the artistic director of the Rhinebeck Chamber Music Society, which still performs today. In addition, he was a conductor of the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra, and conducted Die Fledermaus at the Bardavon with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society, a highlight of his musical career. He was honored by the towns of Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck as well as the Bardavon for his contributions to the community.
Born in Berlin in 1919, he was arrested by the Nazis on Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938 and interned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Upon release, he emigrated to Amsterdam and then, via Antwerp, Belgium, to the United States on the SS Pennland, one of the last ships to leave Western Europe before the Nazi invasions of Holland, Belgium and France in 1940 (aspects of which were recently portrayed in the film Dunkirk). He was predeceased by his sister Leoni and mother Toni, who joined him on the same ship, which Kurt related was reputed also to be carrying the gold reserves of the Netherlands, and whose passengers also included the parents of his future wife. In the United States, he met and married Lore Grishman (deceased), another Jewish emigre from Berlin. They settled in Poughkeepsie and later Hyde Park where they raised their family, enjoying frequent summer trips to Cape Cod.
He was a long time resident of both Hyde Park and Rhinebeck. For over forty years he worked as a toolmaker at Wire-O Corporation during the day and played with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic at night. His marriage ended in divorce but the couple maintained a strong friendship throughout their lives. He is survived and mourned by daughters Joan Grishman of Hyde Park, and Wendy Grishman Susswein, grandson Liam Matthias Susswein and son-in-law Don Susswein of Bethesda, Maryland.
A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, August 8 at Noon at Temple Beth El Cemetery, Route 44, in Poughkeepsie, NY. All are welcome. A memorial concert/service for friends, family, and the general public will be held at a later date. Donations in Kurt’s honor may be made to the Hudson Valley Philharmonic (Bardavon.org) or the Rhinebeck Chamber Music Society (rhinebeckmusic.org). If you wish to send an online condolence please visit our website at www.wmgmillerfuneralhome.com