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Ms. Martha E. Blackman

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I first met Martha in 1977, while rehearsing alongside her within the Sinfonia of Northern California, where she was concurrently preparing an Early Music event for Herbst Theater. She agreed to listen to my playing (String Bass) and I did play for her, preparing J.S. Bach Bouree from Cello Suite #3, and also Italo Caimmi Etude #8 from "La tecnica superiore del contrabbasso". Martha was very insightful about pulse-counterpulse in solo Bach, and further remarked that the Caimmi would increasingly mean more to me as I further matured on my instrument.

Posted by: Alan Lochhead - San Francisco, CA - Student   Dec 30, 2021

Martha tried (vainly) to break me of some bad habits in viol technique when I studied with her one summer at Stanford in about 1969. I had taught myself, have small hands, had never played a bowed stringed instrument before, and therefore played in the awkward half position. She did her heroic best with a person who was never anything but a middling musician and I only recently passed on the reams of printed instructions from her to the University

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Posted by: Katie Green - Plain, WI - Student   Dec 29, 2021

A tribute to Martha Blackman from a lute player
by Catherine Liddell
Why, you might ask, is a lute player writing a tribute in memory and appreciation of a gamba player? Unusual circumstances give rise to this, starting with myself as an 8th-grader. That's when my family met Martha Blackman (it's a long story!). At that time, at the Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, CT, my parents were both taking lessons from her, and they roped in any of

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Posted by: Catherine Liddell - Natick, MA - student   Nov 28, 2021

Trust thyself. Every heart vibrates to that iron string, said Emerson, and that is exactly what Martha Blackman did for the entirety of her life. I met that fascinating person in the mid-1980s and quickly learned to value her independent spirit, ingeniousness and exceptional knowledge of music and life itself. I am honored to have been her friend for decades and would like to imagine she now rests in peace. I do wonder, however, if in the Universe Beyond she

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Posted by: Anna McSherry - Kehl, CA - Friend   Nov 28, 2021

Martha was one of the most remarkable people I've ever known. The first professional performer on the viola da gamba of the modern age, she was an amazing teacher and a remarkable scholar, with a musical aesthetic that she pursued with a Zen-like directness. Over a friendship of nearly 50 years she deeply enriched my life.

Posted by: Martin Lodahl - Auburn, CA - friend   Nov 27, 2021

Martha was my gamba teacher from 1972-1975, while she was at Stanford University. I had originally wanted to take cello lessons from her, but I came early to my first lesson and listened outside the door while she was practicing. As I listened to her play, I found myself loving the sound she made on an instrument I had never knew existed. And so the gamba entered my life. She told me during my lessons to “make each note count.”

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Posted by: Carol Pollard - Boca Raton, FL - student   Nov 27, 2021