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Eva F. Anderson, a retired Baltimore Symphony Orchestra cellist, keyboardist and music teacher, dies of coronavirus

Eva F. Anderson performed regularly with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from 1961 until retiring in 1995, then was a periodic substitute.
Eva F. Anderson performed regularly with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from 1961 until retiring in 1995, then was a periodic substitute.

Eva F. Anderson, a cellist who performed with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for more than three decades and was also a keyboardist and music teacher, died of the coronavirus April 13 at Sun Valley Assisted Living in Westminster. The former longtime Pasadena resident was 89.

“Eva was fantastic. She could play anything that was put before her,” said Bob Kennick, a percussionist with the BSO from 1948 until his retirement in 1988. “She also did piano orchestrations. She’d put down her cello, go play the piano, and return to her seat and pick up her cello.”

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“She played the cello and played it well,” said Don Tison, former principal BSO trumpeter, who retired after 31 years with the orchestra in 2000.

Missie Zaraya, a BSO violinist for 47 years before retiring in 2014, said: “Eva was a great sort of old-school musician who was reliable, hardworking, loyal and always pleasant to be around. She also played the keyboard and whenever they needed a keyboardist, she was always willing and able to do that.”

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The former Eva Mathews Frantz, daughter of Luther M. Frantz, a civil engineer, and his wife, Eva Ness Frantz, a private piano teacher, was born in Baltimore and raised on Oakley Road and later Everton Road in the city’s Pimlico neighborhood.

Something of a child prodigy, she began playing the piano when she was 6 years old under the guidance of her mother, who was a Peabody Institute graduate, and later added the cello, while at the same time composing pieces. By 1939 she had composed 15 pieces.

“As for her pieces, Eva just plays them. Her mother will be in the kitchen and hear a new, unusually simple tune. She will come back in and ask, ‘What’s that you’re playing?'" The Sun reported in a 1939 article.

“The reply often is, ‘Why mother, that’s my new piece.’ Eva says she 'just hears’ the tunes in her head of course. One of the most unusual is her ‘Song of the Radiator,’ which she wrote after hearing one at her home.”

After she had attended her first symphony concert, she went home and wrote her first piece, “Wake Up Sally. It’s Time to Get Up.” Other youthful compositions included “In the Woods,” “Spring Makes the Flowers,” “The Grasshopper,” “Butterflies,” “March of the Tin Soldiers” and “Waltz.”

She was 8 years old when BSO conductor Werner Janssen performed her “Go to Sleep My Teddy Bear” at the first young people’s concert of the 1939 season at The Lyric.

"Eva takes the bear to bed with her every night, and the song she wrote was a lullaby, “Go to Sleep My Teddy Bear.' Yesterday the bear was dressed in a colorful gypsy costume,” The Sun reported.

Brought to the stage where she received the applause of an appreciative audience, as the orchestra prepared to repeat the lullaby, young Eva instructed them to play it “very softly,” reported the newspaper.

“That was one of her favorite music memories,” said a daughter, Marty Dunbar, of Highland.

A 1948 graduate of Eastern High School, she completed her education at the Peabody Institute where she earned a teacher’s certificate in piano, harmony and violoncello. In 1954, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music, piano and supplementary subjects. In 1958, she earned a master’s degree in violoncello, also from Peabody.

“While she was in high school she received a three-year scholarship to the Peabody. She also had a one-year piano scholarship at the conservatory, and in 1957 received the Harold Randolph Prize for achievement during the period of study,” The Sun reported in a 1958 profile.

“She and I were taking a class together at Peabody and little did we know it at the time that we would have professional musical careers,” said Mr. Kennick, an Owings Mills resident. “I admired her keyboard tactics and she could innovate like crazy. I told her I wish I could do that, and she told me she admired my rhythm patterns. I guess we had a mutual admiration society.”

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According to the 1958 profile, “Just as her musical tastes range from Bach to jitterbugging, her other interests range from the serious to the light.”

She told Philip Greenfield, a Sun contributing writer, in a 1989 interview: "The music of Bach that I studied as a keyboard player gave me a genuine understanding of the way music fit together, once I began playing in orchestras. I remember at Peabody that I’d get so caught up listening to the unfolding of the music that I’d totally forget to come in and play my part.”

Mr. Kennick described her as being “a little laid-back but friendly. We got along very well.”

In 1954, she married John Meredith “Andy” Anderson, a surveyor for the old State Roads Commission, who was very supportive of her music and career, family members said. He died in 2006.

Mrs. Anderson auditioned for the BSO in 1961 and at first was told there were no openings, then a position soon opened and she was invited to fill it.

“She hesitated taking the job,” her daughter said. “My father pushed her to go to the BSO and do what she loved.”

Mrs. Anderson soon added the keyboard to her role with the symphony where she performed from 1961 until retiring in 1995. In her retirement, she periodically served as a substitute.

Mary Plaines, a Tuxedo Park resident, who had been principal BSO orchestra librarian and is now secretary-treasurer of the Musician’s Association of Metropolitan Baltimore, said of Mrs. Anderson: “She was a warm and generous person and people remember her very fondly, and music was her life.”

Ms. Dunbar said, “One of the highlights of her career was accompanying Metropolitan Opera soprano Beverly Sills." Another career highlight was being a part of the BSO’s 1987 European tour.

“A lot of us remember that 1987 tour to Europe,” Ms. Plaines said. “She and her husband, Andy, were with us.”

“We would get time off to go sightseeing and I remember me and my wife spending a delightful day exploring Vienna with the Anderson’s,” said Mr. Tison, formerly of Parkville, who now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In addition to her work with the BSO, she played with the York and Gettysburg symphonies, in trios and quartets. She also taught music at Peabody and in her home.

When she was a young woman, she had been the organist and choir director at the Glyndon United Methodist Church and for 30 years, was the organist at the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Annapolis.

The former Timonium resident and her husband who later moved to a home in Pasadena that overlooked Bodkin Creek and where they enjoyed entertaining family and friends at summertime crab feasts, as well as BSO colleagues and artists.

“My father was so supportive of her career that he did all of the cooking because she didn’t know how to cook,” Ms. Dunbar said. “I remember trying to explain to her while doing some baking that a stick of melted butter was a half a cup.”

In 2017, Mrs. Anderson moved to Sun Valley Assisted Living.

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“One of the big selling points of her going there was that she could take her piano and organ,” her daughter said. “Her piano and cello were in her room and the organ was in the common room where she performed for fellow residents and guests. She was also organist for their church.”

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Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, plans for a memorial service are incomplete.

In addition to Ms. Dunbar, she is survived by another daughter, Marie Burnham of Summerfield, North Carolina; four grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren.

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