Posts Tagged ‘birdsong’

A Surprise Musical Encounter at the Cemetery

Friday, September 7th, 2018



I created a piece of music incorporating a chance recording of a mockingbird that happened to be perched next to the Steinway & Sons family mausoleum at historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.


My son and I attended an outdoor symphonic concert at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. It would have been the 100th birthday of one of the cemetery’s most famous resident, composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, so the program included beautiful renditions of music from West Side Story. After the concert we strolled around to look for Bernstein’s grave which we found nearby where the concert was held.

We continued walking around for another couple hours enjoying the incredible scenery (Battle Hill is the highest natural point in Brooklyn with views of New York City harbor and the Statue of Liberty), graves of other famous residents (Jean-Michel Basquiat, Samuel F. B. Morse, Charles Ebbets, Charles Lewis Tiffany, etc.) and Revolutionary War and Civil War memorials (The Battle of Brooklyn of August 27, 1776 was the first major battle of the Revolutionary War and partially took place in what later would become Green-Wood Cemetery.)

At one point we came up on a mockingbird bird that was singing and calling away. The surroundings where so quiet and the bird was so close that I took the opportunity to record him on my iPhone. As I was there recording I noticed a huge mausoleum up the hill to our side. The name on the top of the structure read “STEINWAY”.

So turns out we had stumbled, with the help of this mockingbird, onto the Steinway piano family mausoleum built after Henry Steinway’s death in 1871. I had no idea it was in the cemetery. It’s one of the largest private mausoleums in Green-Wood containing over 200 crypts. Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg (later changed to Henry Steinway) moved to the U.S. in 1851 and along with his four sons began working at piano companies before founding Steinway and Sons in 1853.

I couldn’t resist the serendipity of the whole situation and created a piece of music incorporating the bird recording. I dedicate it to the Steinway family for their contributions to the music world, to Green-Wood Cemetery which is an incredible, serene, and historic place….and, of course, the mockingbird!