ROY, KLAUS GEORGE (24 Jan. 1924 - 28 May 2010) was a writer, composer, music critic, record annotator, radio interviewer, concert narrator, teacher and lecturer. He is remembered by many for his long association with the CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA and the thousands of program notes, lectures and radio broadcasts he developed on the ensemble’s behalf.
Klaus Roy was born in Vienna, Austria. His father, Albert Rosenegg (1893-1970), was a poet, book publisher, librarian and philatelist. His mother, Mary Koenig (1902-1978), was a painter, designer, puppeteer, potter and teacher. One of the last passengers on the famed Kindertransport, Klaus was sent to Sussex, England, in 1939. His parents joined him later in the year and all emigrated to Boston, MA, in 1940 at which time their last name was changed to Roy. Klaus Roy attended Boston University (BU), where he received a Bachelor of Music degree. After a stint in the US Army (during which he served in the post-war occupation forces in Japan) he earned a Master of Arts degree in composition from Harvard University. Following graduation he taught composition and music criticism at BU; established the institution’s first music library; wrote articles and concert reviews for the Christian Science Monitor; produced programs for Boston University’s radio station; and authored articles for Stereo Review, Stagebill and other periodicals.
Roy was hired by GEORGE SZELL as program editor/annotator for the Cleveland Orchestra in 1957 and he subsequently moved with his family to CLEVELAND HEIGHTS. For three decades he wrote, edited and produced all publications for the Orchestra (program books, annual reports, press releases, fundraising literature, etc.). Almost every concert program from 1958 to 1988 (Blossom Music Center as well as SEVERANCE HALL contained his articles and annotations. Roy also presented hundreds of concert previews (informal lectures preceding subscription concerts) and interviewed scores of conductors and guest artists for WCLV broadcasts of Cleveland Orchestra concerts. On the side he annotated more than 200 albums for Columbia and its Epic label, as well as for the Haydn Society, Urania and Time-Life. In 1975, while still employed at Severance Hall, Roy joined the faculty of The CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF ART where he taught a course in music for art majors. In 1986 he became adjunct professor at The CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF MUSIC. The following year, CIM awarded him an honorary Doctor of Music degree.
Roy was a prolific composer, creating more than 400 pieces and some 130 opus numbers. Orchestras and smaller ensembles around the world have performed his compositions and dozens of his works have been formally published. This performance activity continued after Roy’s retirement in 1988. In 1991/1992 alone, various musical groups performed more than 30 of his works, including ten first performances. In 1960 Roy helped found the Cleveland Arts Prize, which now reigns as the longest-standing award of its kind in the United States. The Arts Prize honors Northeast Ohio artists of all persuasions: literature, theater, visual arts, dance, architecture and music. In 1965 Roy received the year’s award for excellence in composition.
Klaus Roy had three children with first wife Priscilla (1930-1992). His second wife, the former Gene Jacox Burdick (1925-2013), was a classical and jazz bassist and long-time teaching-faculty member at the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Last updated: 12/8/2020