Irene (as she was called once she came to America) loved the ocean and proved a strong swimmer. She was also an attraction for many of the adolescent male music students, much to the concern of her mother, Lea, and her grandmother, Katherine (Gitel).
Lea’s House in Maine
Lea’s house in Maine she named Mary-Lea Cottage in honor of her friendship with Mrs. Mary Curtis Bok. With a spectacular view of the harbor and a large room for music making, Lea could not part with it once the Curtis Institute decided to end the summer music colony due to its heavy expense in 1945. With the help of her son-in-law, Lea purchased the property from the School and, upon her death, it was inherited by Irene.
Lea did not anticipate that she would find a husband for Irene when her daughter was only fifteen. But she was not about to let Billy Wolf slip away. He came from an established Jewish family in Philadelphia and was wealthy enough that he could afford to go fox hunting on weekends and ensure that Irene would be well cared for. Billy promised Irene that he would provide her with the six children she desired (three boys and three girls) and in time the promise was kept.
The great pianist, Josef Hofmann, was the Director of the Curtis Institute who hired Lea and became her recital partner and, most likely, her lover. He was disparaging about Boris’s ability as a pianist and would only accept Lea’s son as a Curtis student if he specialized in conducting. Though initially a great disappointment for Boris, who had anticipated a major career as a pianist, it turned out to be a blessing. Working under the esteemed Fritz Reiner, Boris not only learned the conductor’s craft but also began specializing in directing and producing opera, eventually heading the opera department at Curtis.
Pierre Luboshutz & Genia Nemenoff
While in Paris, Pierre became the piano teacher of Genia Nemenoff. The two fell in love, eventually married, and moved to the United States. Soon thereafter, they formed the duo-piano team, Luboshutz & Nemenoff, and became more famous than Lea.
Relaxing with Eugene Ormandy
Pierre, Genia, and Lea all appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Music Director Eugene Ormandy. All of them enjoyed a relaxing moment at Lea’s house in Maine joined by Mrs. Ormandy.
Post-concert Reception at the Captain Eels’ Board Barn
Mrs. Bok purchased and renovated Captain Eels’ Board Barn in Rockport for concerts. In this photograph at a post-concert reception, Lea is speaking with Jascha Brodsky, first violinist of the Curtis Quartet. Harpist Carlos Salzedo stands to her left. Other quartet members (violist Max Aronoff and cellist Orlando Cole) can be identified by the bows they hold in their hands. Pianist Vladimir Sokoloff, with mustache, stands to the right of the photo. (Courtesy Curtis Institute of Music Archive)
Planning “Trouble in Tahiti” with Leonard Berstein
Boris was invited to teach at the Berkshire Music Center (Tanglewood) by Serge Koussevitzky in 1940 and became head of the Opera Department soon after. Here he is seen planning the premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s opera “Trouble in Tahiti” with the composer, Boris’ assistant Sarah Caldwell, and Seymour Lipkin (in the pit).
Lea’s First Automobile
Lea learned to drive in Maine and soon after purchased her first car. In time she was able to drive the round trip between Philadelphia and Maine, much to the concern of her daughter Irene.
Lea at a Rehearsal with the Philadelphia Orchestra
In 1945, at age 60, Lea still had the elegant deportment for which she was famous. According to the reviewers, she was still at the top of her form. According to her students, she still had “her chops.”
Pierre, Babushka, Lea, and Genia
Near the end of her life, Lea and Pierre’s mother, Katherine (Gitel), could feel great satisfaction that her aspirations for her children had been realized. Her summers in Maine were relaxing and fun — especially the evening poker games with various Curtis musicians. By this time everyone called her “Babushka.” In this photo (left to right) are Pierre, Babushka, Lea, and Genia (Pierre’s wife).
Lea and Boris
Lea and Boris began to grow apart after his marriage in 1933. Lea often second-guessed Boris’ career choices and regularly criticized his wife, Margaret. Boris was careful to remain a loving son but did so from a distance (it helped that he lived in Boston and Lea in Philadelphia). One thing that helped keep them close were occasional joint recitals which Boris, now increasingly famous, could arrange whenever he wanted.
Mentoring Other Women
Lea had success teaching women as well as men. One of her successful female students was Ethel Stark who co-founded and led an orchestra made up entirely of women — the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra — that was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall. This photo was taken when Lea, second from left, performed with the group. Ethel is third from the left.
Many people thought Leopold Godowsky, the great pianist, composer, and teacher, was related to the family. In fact, his name was spelt differently, he was Polish, not Russian, and only met Lea when both had emigrated to the United States. Both musicians admired each other and his was the only fan letter that the family found with her papers when she died.
Rockport Boat Club
Throughout her summers in Rockport, Maine, Lea made a point of playing benefit concerts for local organizations. This practice continued after her retirement including a 1951 benefit to raise money for a new flagstone fireplace in the main meeting room of the Rockport Boat Club of which she became an honorary member.
Genia, Pierre and Boris Rehearsing, 1956
Genia Nemenoff, her husband Pierre Luboshutz, and their nephew Boris Goldovsky prepare for a tour commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mozart in 1956. For Pierre, it provided an opportunity to conduct for the first time in America.
Lea, Marlene Dietrich, and Leo Lerman, 1957
In her later years, Lea was a fixture in the Philadelphia social scene. Her photo would appear frequently in the society pages of local newspapers in conjunction with local galas, often with the guest of honor. Here she is at the Philadelphia Fashion Group’s tribute to Marlene Dietrich in 1957.
Lea and Grandsons Tom, Nick, and Andy in 1960
Lea supervising three grandsons in a music session (from left, Tom, Nick, and Andy). At one time she had told a reporter that none of her grandchildren had musical talent. But by the time this photo was taken for a newspaper article in 1960, Lea had changed her tune and believed that at least one of her grandchildren should pursue a performing career.
Enjoying the Beach
Lea sitting on her rocky beach in Maine. Throughout her seventies, Lea continued to swim every day in the cold Maine ocean.
Brothers and Business Partners
Andy and Tom Wolf enter the concert business in 1960 with a tour of ten girls’ camps in Maine. This is their very first promotional offering.
Irene, Billy, and Their Family
Irene, Billy, and their family of six children. From left: first row – Andy, Cathy, Lucy; second row – Sani, Tom; back row – Nick, Irene, Billy.
Rockport Opera House
In 1972, the Rockport (Maine) Garden Club undertook a renovation of the Rockport Opera House. Built in 1891, it had not been used for performances for decades. Boris assisted with the renovation of the performance space and Andy and Tom Wolf decided to move their Bay Chamber Concerts series there in 1974. Since that time, the organization has offered over 1,000 concerts there.
The Rockport Opera House's Historic Painted Curtain
The historic painted curtain at the Rockport Opera House depicts a scene looking toward Rockport from its outer harbor. The curtain stays closed until concert time so the audience can enjoy the beautiful scene.
Tom and Andy Wolf
Tom (left) and Andy Wolf relax and discuss the upcoming summer season of concerts at Lea’s place in Rockport, Maine. The tree they are leaning against produced the apples that Lea used to make many quarts of apple sauce for the winter months. (photo by Nancy Scanlan)
Boris Relaxing in Maine
As Boris aged, his visits to Maine were entirely for relaxation. He would often spend the entire day in his pajamas and wrapped in a bathrobe that he had bought decades before when he had spent the summer with Lea in St.-Jean-de-Luz. A straw hat capped the outfit.
Andy’s Grave at Seaview Cemetery
Andy’s grave at the beautiful Seaview Cemetery in Rockport, Maine. Pierre and Genia are buried in graves close by, as was their wish.