The Thurnauers: A Legacy in Music

William Thurnauer, who passed away in March 2006 at the age of 92, was the Music School’s beloved benefactor and friend for over twenty years. He began his acquaintance with the school in the 1980’s, when his late wife, Maria, began taking many of the tender photographs of our students that still hang in the halls. In 1987, their lifetime dedication to music led Bill and Maria to endow the JCC Music School that bears their name. Bill was a loving presence at the school, first with Maria and, more recently, with his second wife, Lilo.

William Thurnauer was a president of the North Jersey Cultural Council and the Teaneck Symphony Society (later the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra), and on the boards of the International Society of Performing Arts Administrators and the Pro Arte Chorale. Maria, who passed away in 1999, was founder and director of the Friends of Music, which provided free chamber music concerts in this area when it was still viewed by many as a “cultural wasteland.” Bill and Maria brought many world-famous artists to Bergen County, for which they were honored by the International Society of Performing Arts Administrators.

Lilo Thurnauer, to whom Bill was married for the last several years of his life, continues to express her love for the Music School in many ways, including the establishment of a Scholarship Endowment in Bill’s memory. Her devotion to the school and desire to preserve the Thurnauer legacy are characterized by her consistent interest in our activities and ongoing support in so many ways. Lilo’s warmth and graciousness maintains the vital connection between the Music School and the Thurnauer name.

Thanks to Bill, Maria, and Lilo, students of all ages and backgrounds have an opportunity to receive the education essential to a lifelong understanding and enjoyment of music. The contribution of these three individuals to the life of the music school has been immeasurable: encouraging new initiatives, lending their time and talents to a wide range of projects, and being a visible presence at the School’s many events over the years. Everyone who passes through the doors of the Thurnauer School of Music is a beneficiary of all that the Thurnauers have given to us, for which we are truly grateful.