In Memoriam: Ernest Bloch II: Celebration of Life

Celebration of Life for Ernest Bloch II
Thursday, November 15
Portland State University — Lincoln Recital Hall
7 to 9 p.m.

Cellists around the globe are invited to play Ernest Bloch’s Prayer as close to 7:00 p.m. as possible in their respective time zones. It is hoped that recordings of these performances could be compiled into a ‘collage’ of musicians playing Bloch’s Prayer in honor of Ernest Bloch II.


In Memoriam Ernest Bloch II by Alexander Knap — August 2018

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Ernest Bloch II (‘Ernie’ – known also as ‘Jody’) – grandson of composer Ernest Bloch – on Friday 10 August at the age of 79, following a severe stroke. He and his partner Judy had recently returned to their home in Portland, Oregon, from the Ceremony of Dedication of the Monument to his grandfather’s memory at the Ernest Bloch Memorial Wayside, Agate Beach, Newport, Oregon, in which he (and I) had participated. He had the pleasure and satisfaction of meeting with numerous family members and friends, some of whom he had not seen for some years; so there was a tangible feeling of reunion which everyone present at this event was able to observe and enjoy.

Ernie was born to Ivan (the eldest child of Ernest and Marguerite Bloch) and Marianna (of Dutch-Jewish ancestry) in November 1938, and grew up in Portland. Aspects of his early family life are vividly and touchingly described in his ‘Reminiscences of My Grandfather’, the Foreword to Ernest Bloch Studies (pp. xiv-xx), in which the following biographical details also appear (p. xi): ‘After graduating from Portland State University, he engaged in a business career, directing economic planning and development for the airline industry. He then joined an electric energy corporation managing government and public affairs areas. He describes his mission in life as ‘To have Ernest Bloch’s music heard.’

Despite having contracted polio at the age of five, and being physically restricted ever since that time, Ernie led a full and active life. In addition to his professional work in the field of philanthropy, he was a popular and highly respected chairman of numerous cultural organizations in Oregon over the years.

I first came to know him in 1995 when he and his aunt Suzanne, Ernest Bloch’s elder daughter, came to London to attend the performance of Bloch’s Avodath Hakodesh (Sacred Service), presented in St. Paul’s Cathedral by the Jewish Music Institute and conducted by Yehudi Menuhin. Ernie and I remained firm friends over the succeeding years, meeting periodically in Portland or Newport, and speaking frequently over the phone about Bloch matters and exchanging family news. I shall always remember the enormous warmth of his friendship, his ready wit, and his sparkling expression. He was an immense inspiration to everyone who came into contact with him: a role model in how to cope with adversity without complaint – and how to bring happiness to others. To have known Ernie is a true blessing, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to stay and spend quality time with Ernie and Judy in Portland during the last three days of my visit to Oregon last month.

We extend our sincerest condolences to Judy; to his daughter Suzanne and her family: husband Richard, children Heidi, Emily and Jackson; his son Peter; and to his sister Joni. In the picture which I took only a few weeks ago, we see Ernie Bloch (right), next to his partner, Judy Buffo. Next to her (right to left): Suzanne Bloch Boyer, Suzanne’s husband Richard (behind), Jackson (in front), Emily, Heidi.     Alex Knapp, August 2018