Salute to Phillips Musicians in the Armed Forces

military bands post_archival program

(left) Dec 6, 1942 program from the Music Department permanent archives (right) Feb 21, 1943 program from the Music Department permanent archives

In honor of Veteran’s Day this week, the Phillips celebrates military musicians serving in the Army Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps Bands. Nearly 100 performances were held in the Phillips’s Music Room between 1939 and 1945, making Sunday Concerts the longest continually-running series in Washington, DC.

Of the many fine military musicians performing at the Phillips, GRAMMY-winning American pianist Earl Wild (1915–2010) was one. Wild is renowned as one of the greatest pianists and all-around musicians in history, and one Harold Schonberg called Wild a “super-virtuoso in the Horowitz class.”

We are proud to boast several Phillips Camerata musicians who presently serve in the US Marine Corps Band, including violinist Karen Johnson and cellist Charlie Powers. On our 75th season anniversary, we honor the legacy of Armed Services musicians in two concerts during our 2015/2016 season, featuring Navy Sea Chanters and the USMCB string ensemble.

Caroline Mousset, Director of Music

Late Night Rehearsal

Pianist Alexander Melnikov practices last Saturday night. Photo: Margaret Rajic

Pianist Alexander Melnikov practices last Saturday night. Photo: Margaret Rajic

Saturday evening I had the pleasure of photographing Russian pianist Alexander Melnikov practicing in the beautiful home of Aaron and Barbara Levine. They graciously offered their home as a practice location to Mr. Melnikov, who requested to rehearse late into the evening. His sense of humor and wit after a day of traveling from Kansas City to Washington, D.C., on top of jetlag, was a delight. Mr. Melnikov told me how charmed he was by Washington, after spending only a number of hours in the city—the majority of which were spent rehearsing. On Sunday he gave a concert at the Phillips with a program including Schumann, Scriabin, and Prokofiev.

Margaret Rajic, Music Intern

The Paint Joy Pianist

Photo of the pianist Roman Rabinovich

Pianist Roman Rabinovich

Israeli pianist Roman Rabinovich has been praised by critics for his “vivacity and virtuosity” and his “impeccable clarity of execution.” Rabinovich has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Israel. He has also gained an unlikely notoriety for his iPad drawings created with the Paint Joy app.

In an interview with, Roman was asked to describe the creative journey that has brought him to where he is in his career today.

“My parents are a huge source of inspiration for me. Both pianists, they were not only active in my musical growth, but in all mediums of art. From a very early age, my mother would take me to many different concerts and play recordings. Some of my favorite recordings that left a deep impression on me include Tchaikovsky symphonies and Horowitz’s 1968 recital at Carnegie Hall. My mother also took me to many museums and galleries, which helped feed my passion for visual art. I was obsessed with French impressionists, Cézanne in particular, and later on, Picasso. Playing the piano and drawing have been equally important to me in my life and seem to go hand in hand.”

Try to guess–by his drawings alone!–which composers works Roman performed at his Phillips recital last Sunday, March 25.

Illustrations of composers by Roman Rabinovich created using iPad's Paint Joy app.

Drawings created by Roman Rabinovich using the iPad and the Paint Joy app. Illustrations courtesy of the artist.