Sad news: Mother of Curtis has died

Sad news: Mother of Curtis has died


norman lebrecht

June 18, 2019

I am distressed to learn of the passing of Naomi Graffman, wife of the retired Curtis Institute director, Gary Graffman. Naomi, who was childless, was a maternal presence at Curtis, giving the college an aura of pastoral care that was scarcely obtainable anywhere else.

They were surrogate parents to the teenaged Lang Lang.

When I wrote Who Killed Classical Music?, Naomi and Gary were willingly forthcoming about Ronald Wilford’s takeover at CAMI, where she worked. She was warm and fun and a little bit wicked, in the nicest possible way.

Lovely lady.



  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Perfect picture of the Graffmans. Your comments are most appropriate, Norman, and I think Naomi would appreciate the remark “a little bit wicked…” Claude Frank said that it wasn’t just Gary, or not just Naomi, but Garomi, a term they often used themselves to describe their teamwork as a couple.

  • Nili says:

    Spot on. We loved her

  • esfir ross says:

    RIP. I met Naomi in Kishinev 1968 when Gary astonished us as fabulous pianist. He spoke Russian and me and Naomi when met in USA talk about gypsies swarmed them coming after rehearsal from philarmonie and begged for money. “Shame’ said Naomi in Russian. This lovely lady’ll be mist

  • So sad to learn this. She left a wonderful legacy with many, and will be remembered by many. So sorry for dear Gary and everyone whose lives she was a strong part of.

  • Such a marvelous person. The two of them were quite a couple. She will be greatly missed. My deepest condolences to Gary and his family.

  • Susan and Woody Goldberg says:

    We are saddened by the news of Naomi Graffman having passed! Our thoughts and prayers are with Gary at this difficult time! May Naomi rest in peace and may her fine legacy live on for many years to come. She will greatly be missed! Susan and Woody Goldberg

  • Kolb Slaw says:

    She was truly a power behind the throne.

  • Amanda Mitchell-Boyask says:

    She was a second mother to all of us who studied or worked at Curtis during the “Garomi” years. She made an impact on so very many aspects of life at Curtis, but her work in the Curtis Library deserves a special mention. For decades she volunteered so many hours each week to catalog all the student competition and summer program opportunities that Head Librarian Betsy Walker (1948-2014 and in her other life a renowned Gilbert and Sullivan contralto) always introduced her at Orientation Ceremonies as a member of her team. As my fellow former Curtis team member Laura C.K. Hart remarked tonight, “I hope Betsy greets her with a fitting musical flair!”