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Remembering Longtime V.com Member Pauline Lerner

January 6, 2022, 1:40 PM · It's time to play Bach again for Pauline.

Pauline Lerner -- violinist, teacher, photographer, and astute observer of the human condition -- died on Jan. 3 after a long struggle with multiple health problems. Pauline was one of the earliest members of Violinist.com, having joined in 2004, and even while at a nursing home, struggling with kidney disease and tethered to an oxygen tank, she continued to post nature photographs to her Facebook page and write entries to her blog on Violinist.com.

Pauline Lerner
Pauline Lerner.

From Baltimore, Md., Pauline studied biochemistry at the University of Maryland but taught violin during the latter 20 years of her life.

Her blogs on Violinist.com were detailed and far-ranging. One of them described, with both personal detail and useful and accurate medical information, her comeback from a rotator cuff injury, with the aim of helping others with the same problem.

Her book review of Zhu Xiao-Mei's 'Secret Piano' is beautifully written - describing "a book about the worst and best of the human spirit. The worst is the ravages of the human body and spirit by the totalitarian regime of Mao Tse Tung. The best is music."

When she wrote a summation of "Itzhak," the 2018 documentary by Alison Chernick, she tapped into the most essential elements of both the film and Itzhak Perlman's legacy - with both deep appreciation for his immense talent and an eye for catching the humor and quirkiness inherent in his story.

More poignantly, she wrote about one of her former students, Harry, who died under tragic circumstances at the age of 19.

"Harry was one of my very favorite students," she wrote. "I really loved that little boy, and he loved me, too. He was smart, very talented, imaginative, spontaneous, and very much his own person. He was inventive and surprising. I didn’t love him because of these traits. Love is not, or should not be, dependent on talents and accomplishments..."

When she attended one of Joshua Bell's earliest concerts conducting the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields in 2012, she simply wrote, "Joshua Bell conducts and plays the Beethoven Concerto, and life has never been the same."

Remembering Leonard Bernstein, she wrote that "Bernstein made me love this music by conducting it and talking about it. The following video clip shows him conducting and explaining the very end of Mahler's Ninth. That was quite a journey -- walking with a tortured man to his death. I would be scared to take that walk by myself, but Bernstein helps me by showing me the surrender and peace at the end of life."

One of Pauline's earliest blogs on Violinist.com in 2004 detailed her very acute problems with depression and difficult life circumstances - losing a job, losing a life partner, even losing her will to live.

In response, V.com member Steven Brivati encouraged the Violinist.com community to play Bach for Pauline, and the result was an outpouring of support. At first Pauline was too depressed to even get on the Internet - she did not see the thread. Then member Peter Ferreira called her to let her know about it.

"I have no words to express my thanks to all of you for your understanding and compassion," she wrote in response. "Bach's violin music is one of the greatest gifts, and hearing it come through my window from friends I've never even met is another. Please don't stop playing for me....I can't tell you how much it means to me, any more than I can tell you why I love Bach. I'll be listening through my window."

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Replies

January 6, 2022 at 08:16 PM · I never had the fortune to meet Pauline, but I felt like I knew her through v.com. Her comments were always warm, heartfelt, and supportive. I adored her photo where she is looking out from behind her violin's scroll. She was an astute observer, sympathetic listener, and kind-hearted soul. Oh, Pauline, I never knew you, but you made a true difference in my life. This Bach's for you, with love and appreciation. Rest In Peace.

January 6, 2022 at 08:42 PM · Greetings,

I have been a member of v.commie for longer than I care to remember and so has Pauline. Laurie provided the space and beautiful people sprang up out of nowhere to share joy and happiness with the world. Pauline was one of the greatest of these, never hesitating to share her passions, successes and failures with all of us. I learnt so much from her it seems futile trying list any of them, but one springs to mind. Pauline ‘the violin teacher’ wanted everyone to enjoy playing right from the beginning so she didn’t bother with all the nerdy stuff right off the bat. She had this knack of getting a person to put bow to string and draw a good sound from the instrument in those first few minutes. She was saying ‘You see? Anything is possible.’

That was Pauline, always saying to us ‘You see? Anything is possible.’

Gonna miss you.

January 6, 2022 at 09:04 PM · Thank you so much for posting this remembrance, Laurie! I remember so well how everyone played Bach for Pauline. That was nearly 20 years ago! She was a gifted woman with a strong passion for music. Her life was difficult, but she perserved and worked hard to stay connected despite her increasingly challenging circumstances. We will miss you, Pauline.

January 6, 2022 at 09:35 PM · The world needs more people such as Pauline Lerner, with thoughtful minds, warm hearts, and generous spirits.

I didn't join until 2010, so I missed the first Bach-for-Pauline. I'm not surprised it was Buri's idea. But I won't miss this one. This evening I will play the 2nd movement of the A Minor Concerto in her memory. One of the most underappreciated slow movements in the entire violin concerto repertoire, I believe.

January 7, 2022 at 04:28 AM · What a loss. I have no other words. Time to play some Bach.

January 7, 2022 at 10:55 AM · I am a very late joiner to V.com, and had only read Pauline’s review of Joshua Bell on-line and on rotor cuff injuries. I read both several times: the first from shared enthusiasm, the second from shared need. I wish I had met her personally.

January 7, 2022 at 12:47 PM · My condolences and sympathy to the family and friends of Pauline.

January 7, 2022 at 02:59 PM · Thank you Laurie!

I came in the later years, but I remember her well. She was a treasure! A great loss to the violin.com community.

I will play a the Largo movement from Bach's C Major Sonata.

January 7, 2022 at 05:28 PM · Pauline stood tall in our community because of her sincerity, desire to share from her experiences, and love of music and her students. I remember that she gave her students Beatles songs, and inspired me to do the same. I’m glad she found so much beauty and meaning in music.

January 8, 2022 at 02:09 AM · When I visited Pauline's Facebook page yesterday to check her news (I used to do it since news field on FB was changed the way that we don't see all the news from our friends) I saw somebody wrote about her passing. I was so chocked that couldn't accept it... Pauline was always so sweet, so sensitive, so generous when we "talked" in our chats. She was a wonderful musician: could play in a various genres and styles. She was a phenomenal photographer with this rare talent to see natural beauty in a very small objects. I am really happy that met her on violinist.com (though not in a real life...). And I would like to put here the song which Pauline liked very much: it is Russian patriotic song written in 1945, "The Roads" performed by Muslim Magomayev:

January 8, 2022 at 04:13 PM · I didn't know Pauline in real life but did have a cordial exchange with her here on v.com in 2013 -- on the subject of the viola, another instrument she loved but which I have so far not attempted to play. My impression of her: a genteel lady and someone I would undoubtedly have been happy to have as a teacher. Regarding our 2013 exchange, Pauline offered the following comment, slightly abridged here, on an old blog post of mine:

"I am a long time violinist who has been seduced by a viola. I've written about my experiences in a blog called 'Violinist Seduced by a Viola' at https://sites.google.com/site/violinistseducedbyaviola/. I love the sound of the viola …. I really don’t think it sounds like a bullfrog. I suppose that you could make it sound like a bullfrog by playing the lowest string, C, and pressing it [the bow] down very hard and stopping intermittently, but I shudder to even think about it. When I first read your statement that you think that violas sound like bullfrogs, I thought that this must be another prejudicial viola joke. Now I believe that you didn’t write it as a bad joke ….

"The first time that I played a really good viola, I was hooked, and just had to have one for myself. I do, and my life has been tremendously enriched by it."

January 9, 2022 at 04:14 PM · I joined violinist.com back in 2006 when I first re-started playing the violin, and one of the first "regulars" I met was Pauline. Her blog, Brains of Violinists, made me feel right at home.

She was a person of many talents--a PhD scientist who had worked at NIH and assisted others with scientific writing, later a violin teacher after she retired from science, and a photographer. She was very supportive when I restarted, made me feel like I could also be both a musician and scientist, whereas I had always before felt like I had to choose. She taught and encouraged lots of different kinds of students, including adult beginners and returners, in many different styles. The world needs more teachers like her. May she rest in peace.

January 11, 2022 at 12:33 AM · I appreciated her perspective. Even when she was at her lowest, she would post pictures of the beauty of nature that she could see, if only from her window. I didn’t have much contact with her, only the enjoyment of her blogs, posts on Facebook, or the occasional message on Facebook to encourage her when she felt alone.

Though I did not get the honor of knowing her better, of what I do know, she made the world a better place by being in it.

I sincerely hope she has found peace. I will hold her family and friends in my prayers, of which I hope I may be counted as one.

Rest In Peace, Ms. Lerner. You are remembered and missed. Until we meet again, may you know joy & rest.

Sincerely,

Don Sullivan

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