Does the man on the left look familiar?

2. palestina capitol backstage

Backstage at the Capitol Theater, NYC

Paula Eisenstein Baker, Houston, TX cellist and musicologist, is trying to verify whether he is Bernard Nadelle, a prominent cellist with the house orchestra at the Capitol Theater in NYC in the 1920s and 30s. Eisenstein Baker, adjunct instructor of violincello at University of St. Thomas in Houston, is writing a book about an overture on Jewish themes composed for the Capitol Theatre by the man in the center, violist Leo Zeitlin (1884-1930). The man on the right is Alexander Savitsky (188?-1965). These three, and violinist David Mendoza, played together in a string quartet on the radio program “Major Bowes’ Capitol Theatre Family,” broadcast Sunday nights on WEAF in the 1920s. The photo is labeled (on the back) “Capitol Rest Room” (i.e., musicians’ lounge).

So here’s the local connection: Bernard Nadelle and his wife, Feliska Lezeynska Nadelle, were frequent visitors to the Denver Valley, spending time in an apartment at the farmhouse of Lena and Howard Greene. In 1951, they purchased land from the Greenes and built a small home on the Denver-Vega Road where they vacationed for many years. “He was always practicing,” remembered Shirley Greene, who married the farm couple’s son Gerald. “You had to be quiet.”

But the music died in May of 1964 when Nadelle, suffering from cancer, took his own life in the little country house. His widow stayed on, receiving help with rides and shopping from Mrs. Greene and another neighbor, Ethel Roberts. Shirley recalls that Mrs. Nadelle, like her husband a Polish immigrant, had a playful side. “She was a foxy lady, a lot of fun.” She painted the house pink, and once, after a visit to the undertaker to make her own funeral arrangements, cheerfully took Shirley out for a strawberry soda.

Feliska Nadelle died just before Christmas in 1967. She is buried in Roxbury. Her husband rests in Bnai Israel Cemetery, Clovesville.

If you recognize the man in the photo as Bernard Nadelle, or by some miracle, have a confirmed photo of him, contact Eisenstein Baker, at eisenbak@stthom.edu; 713-522-9488.

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