Sunday, January 23, 2011


by David Katz, assistant and disciple

Maestro Vytautas Marijosius was born in Lithuania in 1910. He studied at the Prague Conservatory with Hermann Scherchen and Vaclav Talich and by the age of 28 was music director of the Lithuanian State Opera. He recorded for Deutsche Grammaphone, guest conducted throughout Eastern Europe, and was awarded the Order of the White Lion by the Czechoslovak government for his services to Czech culture, the country’s highest honor to a non-citizen.

Driven from his homeland by the Communists, he settled in New Britain, Connecticut in 1948 and soon joined the faculty at the Hartt School of Music (later part of the University of Hartford) where he taught for more than thirty years. He died in 1996.

A man of remarkable perception, quick wit, extraordinary musical skill and impeccable taste, Marijosius was delightful and demanding, beloved of faculty and students. Loyal to a fault, he remained at Hartt even when offered the post of music director of opera at the Eastman School of Music.

His podium manner was reserved and elegant (he had the most beautiful conducting technique I have ever seen) but he could generate overwhelming emotion in performance. The audience reaction to VM's concert of complete acts from Boris Godunov and Lohengrin at Hartt in 1973, for example, threatened the stability of the auditorium’s architecture.

He had catholic tastes, exposing his students not only to the great masters of the past, but to symphonic masterworks by (then) living composers as diverse as Husa, Copland, Honegger, Britten, Ginastera and Schuman. I am honored to have studied with him as an undergraduate and later became he graduate assistant, and I am delighted that the Marijosius family has decided to honor his memory through the awarding of The American Prize.

Individuals who also wish to honor the memory of Maestro Marijosius are invited to make tax deductible donations via our website portal: Funds donated in this way will be used to fund cash awards only, not for administration. See the website for details or send me an email at



  1. Hello David -- thank you so much for the remembrance of Professor Marjiosius. I remember well Boris/Lohengrin concert -- our first big concert in Millard Auditorium. But I remember the warmth of the man, the gentle, generous nature he possessed. And I remember him sitting on the left side rear of the auditorium for concerts. You knew he enjoyed it when he took his folded up program and clapped two or three times with it. But your description is right: one of the greatest conductors you may not know. Fortunately I did know him. And I still think of him frequently.

  2. Floyd, thank you so much. Do email me, would you?

  3. Dear David: Thank you so much for this remembrance of Mr. Marijosius. I knew him well, dined at his modest home and he guided me thru to finalist in the national Fulbright Scholaarship in conducting in 1970. We spent many journies together to Tanglewood in the summer. I vividly remember his approach to Beethoven's 5th. He admitted he never approached the work until he felt worthy)he was in his 60s) and it was the most inspiring performance one would ever hear. That was his approach to music - he was a singular, modest man with a great reverance for the masters. I still miss him greatly and your site is a great tribute to the man and musician. Thank you again!