This Week in JPL History: Evenings of Musical Appreciation with Clarence Fink

Clarence Fink prepares to play a recording

On January 23rd, 1977 the 40th season of Recorded Concert Series began. This long-running and much beloved series allowed for the weekly appreciation of music at the JPL. It was first founded in the late 1930s by Howard Rombach, who sadly passed away shortly thereafter. Clarence Fink, who had become involved in planning the concerts, took over their direction. Fink went on to direct the program on a volunteer basis for the next 58 years. Yes, you read that right, 58 years – from 1938 to 1996.

It is difficult to describe in words just what the concert series meant to our members, and just what Clarence Fink meant to the Library. The program gave our members an opportunity to come and listen to different pieces of music, during a time when purchasing music was too expensive. A typical evening would include four to five pieces of classical music followed by commentary. This background was often given by Fink himself, though regular guest commentators also were included in the program. The evenings took place on Fridays and were held every week until its 44th season, after which breaks were held over the spring and summer months.

Clarence Fink’s dedication to bringing music and an appreciation of music to the Library is astounding not just in its longevity, but also in its tenacity. On those days when the programs could not be held at the Library, Fink would hold them in his own home, also providing cookies. In addition to his work with the musical programs, he also built up the Library’s music collection. Fink continued his work at the Library until a few months before his death. His passing on November 24th, 1996 not only marked the end of an era for the Library but was the loss of one of the staunchest supporters the Library has had.

The This Week in Jewish Public Library History blog series was made possible through the generous support of the Peter and Ellen Jacobs Virtual Archives Fund.

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