Julia Vieland, pianist and teacher, died peacefully at Cathedral Village in Roxborough on February 3, 2021. Julia devoted more than 75 of her 96 years to sharing the joy of making music through her teaching and performing.
Julia was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1924 to Esther and Joseph Vieland, both of whom were professional musicians. In 1920 they escaped the Soviet Union to America with the other members of Joseph’s string quartet and their wives. Before joining The Chicago Symphony in 1925, Joseph played violin for silent movies to support his wife and child. During his tenure with the Chicago Symphony, Mr. Vieland set out on a solo career as well, and accompanied by Esther on piano, he was well-received as one of the earliest known violists to give solo recitals.
In 1930 the Vieland family moved to New York City where Joseph became a member of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Julia began piano lessons when she was five and showed remarkable talent for the instrument. She was, of course, encouraged by her musical family.
After appearing at age 16 on the “Young American Artist Series” in New York, Julia went on to study at Oberlin Conservatory of Music as a scholarship student of Dr. Frank Shaw. She received her BA in Political Science from Queens College in NYC and continued her musical education at Mannes School of Music. She went on to study with renowned teachers Alexander Lipsky and noted concert pianist Walter Hautzig. She performed as both a soloist and chamber musician in the New York and Philadelphia areas into her 90s
Julia moved from New York to Philadelphia in 1967 with her second husband Herbert Bassow, who had accepted the position as head of the science department at Germantown Friends School. Living in Mount Airy she developed and maintained two piano studios in their home where she also trained and employed assistant teachers. For more than 30 years she would have annual “piano parties” for her students and their families, moving the venue from her home studio to GFS and to The Lutheran Theological Seminary as they grew in size. She preferred the word “party” to “recital” because she felt that helped to alleviate her student’s feelings of stage fright.
During those years Julia truly built a musical community, always sharing photos, articles and notices in The Chestnut Hill Local and Mt. Airy Express following these musical performances. She later downsized and moved her studio to Chestnut Hill where she continued to teach and perform.
In 2001, spurred by the musical curiosity of her four-year-old grandson and inspired to leave a musical “legacy” for her five grandchildren, Julia recorded a unique CD of piano favorites from Bach to Debussy entitled “Julia’s Gift.” She gave copies to family and the CD was such a hit (including brief but informative liner notes for each piece which she wrote herself), she ended up selling it at “Intermezzo,” a musically inspired gift shop that was in Chestnut Hill at the time, as well as the Kimmel Center gift shop, Borders Books and on Amazon.
Julia moved to Cathedral Village in Roxborough in 2003 and quickly established herself as the resident pianist, performing regularly in the Presser Lounge and Cathedral Hall. She was a founding member of the Matinee Musicale Committee, which ushered in an era of regular concerts performed by residents of Cathedral Village. One of those concerts was a “Vieland Family Concert” at which her brother, sister-in-law, son and daughter also performed. During that time she joined the board of the former “Philadelphia Music Makers,” a magazine for classical music lovers. Her rich knowledge of music made her a valuable resource for the publication. Julia often wrote articles for the magazine on topics such as selecting a piano teacher, shopping for a piano, and creating an artistic legacy. She also wrote about the Presser Foundation and its history of supporting retired music teachers at Cathedral Village.
The musical legacy she inherited from her parents lives on in her children. Her son David Lambert is a professional musician and sound engineer, her and daughter Cindy (Bassow) Tenaglia is a piano teacher in Bucks County. In addition to her children, Julia is survived by five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, her brother Leon Vieland, a niece and nephew.
Donations can be made in her name to The Diller-Quaile School of Music at https://diller-quaile.org/vieland