Obituary: Suki Sommer

Colleagues,

At Jane Gottlieb's request, I am forwarding Suki (Susan T.) Sommer's obituary from the New York Times, as well as the tribute from the Music Library Association.

Bonna J. Boettcher
Music Librarian and Adjunct Professor of Music
Cornell University. Ithaca


 Sommer, Susan (Suki) Thiemann, born in New York City, January 7, 1935, died at home in New York on March 4, 2008, after a lengthy illness. Ms. Sommer was the Acting Director of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (1999-2001) when she retired in 2001. She also was Chief of its Music Division from 1997 to 2001 and Head of its Circulating Collections from 1987 to 1997. She joined The New York Public Library in 1961. In 1969 she became head of the rare books and manuscripts section and curator of the Toscanini Memorial Archives in The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

She will also be remembered for nurturing many of today's music librarians lucky enough to have taken the famous course in music librarianship she taught for years at Columbia University. Suki was a product of the Greenwich, CT, public schools and was graduated magna cum laude from Smith College in 1956. After receiving a masters degree in musicology at Columbia and studying in Florence on a Fulbright scholarship, she gained a second masters at Columbia, in library service, and became a luminary in her chosen field of music librarianship. She served a term as president of the Music Library Association and excelled as the editor-in-chief of its journal, Notes, from 1982 to 1987, after years of writing and editing book and music reviews. She was awarded an honorary membership of the Association in 1994.

She was active in the International Association of Music Libraries and edited that organization's journal as well, from 1992 to 2000. One week before her death, she traveled to Newport, RI, for the annual meeting of MLA, where she conversed with some 100 of her closest friends and admirers.

She enjoyed a happy 38-year marriage to Robert C. Sommer, who died in January 2007. She is survived by her brother, Nicholas Thiemann, of Westport, CT, his wife Helen Clark Thiemann and her nephew, Clark Thiemann.

Contributions in her memory may be made to the Music Library Association, the New York Public Library Music Division, and the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, whose Hospice Care program allowed her to live her final months at home in comfort and with dignity. A memorial service is in the planning stages.

(Published in the New York Times on 3/9/2008)
 


The Music Library Association mourns the loss of Suki Sommer, 1935-2008, our past president, brilliant editor, and spiritual leader. Suki's contributions to our profession are incalculable. As professor at Columbia University she taught many of us how to do what we do. Suki was especially devoted to newcomers in our association, and embraced all of us with warmth, humor, and a sense of belonging. We extend deepest condolences to her beloved family, Nicholas, Helen, and Clark Thiemann.

Music Library Association, Philip Vandermeer, President

(Published in the New York Times on 3/11/2008)

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