It is with sadness that the Cali School of Music reports the passing of Chaim Zemach, Professor Emeritus.
Professor of cello at Montclair for 28 years, he played a key role in establishing and maintaining the chamber music program in the Department of Music, mentoring and coaching many generations of string trios, quartets, quintets, and the student violoncello ensemble, “I Monticelli.” Well known across the campus, Zemach also taught literature and creativity courses in the Honors Program.
Zemach was born in Bulgaria and started playing cello at a young age. He traveled widely, spoke at least eight languages with considerable fluency, and had an intense curiosity about everything. He was as well known for his story-telling, his silk cravats, and his love of learning as he was for his superb musicianship. A Holocaust survivor, Zemach was one of three people featured in the documentary A Question of Survival: the complex legacy of the Holocaust in the Balkans.
He was principal cellist in internationally known orchestras such as the Israel Philharmonic, L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, the American Symphony Orchestra, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Upon his retirement from the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, the Chautauquan Daily said of him “He’s a man of peace and a citizen of the world, really.”
His loving wife of many years, Hildegard Zemach, was as well known in the Department of Music as Prof. Zemach. People would come out of their offices in McEachern Hall when her hearty laugh was heard coming into the building. She passed away last year.
Funeral arrangements for Prof. Zemach are unknown at this time.