Marvin Schluger (1923-2004) was born into a poor immigrant Jewish family in Philadelphia PA. His father had been a coppersmith in the Old World but found it difficult to make a living in America, so Schluger’s mother worked to sustain the family. It seemed, however, that there was always an extra dollar-and-a-half for Schluger and his sister to take weekly music lessons. Piano studies with Joseph Levine, and subsequently with Maria Carreras, were the focus of this early music education, while Schluger’s explorations in composition were largely self-taught.
The economics of life forced Schluger to help support the family, preventing the young man from pursuing his desired career and dedicating all his creative energies to music. Instead, he eventually established himself as one of the world’s most highly regarded designers of fine jewelry and was president of his own Fifth Avenue firm, Marvin Schluger, Inc. As a master jeweler, he created superb designs in association with some of the finest manufacturers in Europe, and that jewelry was sported by dignitaries and celebrities around the world.
The demands of business neither diminished Schluger’s love for music, nor did it interfere with his desire to compose. He devoted a minimum of four hours each day to it, and eventually took up the study of orchestration under John David Earnest in New York, and produced a considerable body of works for solo piano and orchestra, including one piano concerto. He was a great admirer of the music of George Gershwin and Scott Joplin, and he found inspiration in the jazz idiom and ragtime style associated with those composers. His works are infused with an abundance of jazz rhythms and harmonic textures, of which Manhattan Suite is a prime example.
Schluger’s works have been heard in concert at the Bavarian State Opera House, by the New York Chamber Symphony at Lincoln Center, the Orchestra of the 92nd Street Y (New York), Walla Walla (Washington) Symphony, Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, and by the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, which performs his Manhattan Suite on this recording under the direction of John Yaffé, longtime friend of Schluger’s and a devoted champion of his work.