In Memory of Margaret Baxtresser

Margaret Baxtresser
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Maid with the Flaxen Hair
Performed by Margaret Baxtresser

Click here to to view the program from Margaret’s memorial service.

Click here to read ‘Margaret Baxtresser: A passion for music and life’ an editorial from the Beacon Journal on June 12th.

Click here to read ‘Mourning a nurturing friend in music ed’ an article from the Beacon Journal on June 10th.

Click here to read ‘Margaret Baxtresser: A life in tune’ an article from the Beacon Journal last fall.

This rememberance begins with tribute articles originally posted on the web site where Mrs. Baxtresser's Debussy program was promoted.

Please check back. As 2010 advances, this site will be redesigned to provide a more complete chronicle of Mrs. Baxtresser's life.

Here is the beautifully written obituary by Elaine Guregian.


Akron pianist Margaret Baxtresser dies
Colleagues remember former Kent State instructor as ‘best of the best musicians’
By Elaine Guregian
Beacon Journal music writer

Music was not just a profession for Akron pianist Margaret Baxtresser. It was who she was, and what she gave to others.

Mrs. Baxtresser, 82, suffered a stroke Monday morning while exercising in her physical therapy class. With her death Tuesday night at Akron General Medical Center, “the cultural life of Akron has been greatly diminished,” said friend Marcianne Herr.

Mrs. Baxtresser was respected for her musicianship and a concert career that took her around the world. She taught piano at Kent State University from 1966 until her retirement in 1991, and remained close to her colleagues at Kent. Last winter, she traveled to New York to help choose a new grand piano for the music school, and she was the featured soloist at the dedication ceremony.

Mrs. Baxtresser had a knack for bringing people together and getting things done. Former Tuesday Musical President Betty Sloan was impressed that Mrs. Baxtresser, “the best of the best musicians, was willing to get in there and work for the organization at the nitty-gritty level.”

“Margaret worked so hard at everything she committed herself to. That served as such an example to us. All of us were willing to go that extra mile because Margaret went that extra mile,” said Barbara Feld, a friend and colleague at Tuesday Musical for more than 20 years.

Mrs. Baxtresser motivated people by believing in them, said Feld, general manager of Tuesday Musical. “She had such complete trust and confidence in a person’s abilities. She knew you could do it. She embraced us all like a mother.”

“I’ve never known anyone so generous with her talents and her love,” said Herr, a former Tuesday Musical president. “She gave everything she had. In return, she has the love of so many people.”

Margaret Barthel was born June 10, 1922, in Detroit. She showed early promise as a pianist and made her professional debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at age 13.

She performed with internationally recognized ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra. Her career took her to such cities as London, Berlin and Amsterdam as well as to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Vietnam for performances and master classes.

Locally, Mrs. Baxtresser performed as a soloist with the Akron Symphony Orchestra. During the 1970s, she also was part of the Cuyahoga Valley Arts Ensemble. In recent years, she had been a member of the Seneca Trio, with Northeast Ohio violinist Marcia Ferritto and cellist Diane Mather.

Mrs. Baxtresser was a staunch supporter of the Akron Symphony and Tuesday Musical and a member of Akron’s Friends of Music. She presented many programs for children through the Children’s Concert Society.

For decades, her home was the place where musicians and other artists gathered. Often she hosted meetings of groups like Tuesday Musical.

When someone wanted to practice a recital program before presenting it to the general public, Mrs. Baxtresser would invite a friendly group of listeners to her West Akron home. If a musician or someone else connected to the arts community was moving to Akron, Mrs. Baxtresser held a reception to greet him or her.

The Baxtresser home was also the natural gathering place for fond send-offs, like the one that Mrs. Baxtresser and friends held last month for Herr as she prepared to move out of state.

Mrs. Baxtresser’s husband, Earl, died in 1991. She is survived by daughter Jeanne Baxtresser (and son-in-law David Carroll); daughter Suzanne Baxtresser (and son-in-law Steven Wangh); son Earl Baxtresser (and daughter-in-law Judy Baxtresser); son Robert Baxtresser; foster daughters Jane Davenport and Mary Davenport (and foster son-in-law Thomas Lifson); and brother Lee Barthel (and sister-in-law Floy Barthel).

A Celebration of Life will be at 7 p.m. Saturday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1250 W. Exchange St., Akron. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Children’s Concert Society, 198 Hill St., Akron, OH 44325-0501.

Mrs. Baxtresser was vital to the end. Wednesday, she had planned to attend a special luncheon where a music collection was to be passed on to a promising young local musician. Friends at Tuesday Musical had asked her to get involved in the effort because she had bequeathed her own large collection to the music conservatory in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Last weekend, she attended a music and dance performance at the University of Akron given by students at the Ohio Conservatory and the UA Dance Institute. Dressed in a vibrant orange jacket, she was as excited as if attending a concert by world-class performers.

“I wouldn’t have missed it,” she said then. That was vintage Margaret Baxtresser. She wouldn’t, and she didn’t.

This obituary was printed by the Akron Beacon Journal on June 9th, 2005.
It was written by Elaine Guregian, the classical music writer for the Akron Beacon Journal.