When Dorothy and Louis Pollack were developing their estate plan, they wanted to include an institution that offers music education to children and youth, notes their son, Larry Pollack, who recalls that his mother was always drawn to music. She played the piano and the flute at various times in her life, was a member of the Bergen County Orchestra in New Jersey before Larry was born, and spent a number of years as a piano teacher in the 1950s.
The Pollacks went on to live in Maryland for more than 50 years, where Louis worked as an electrical engineer and was a pioneer in satellite telecommunications—and where his work at the Communications Satellite Corporation connected him with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. The couple ultimately chose to support the Peabody Institute with a significant bequest. It will be split into two endowments, each called the Dorothy Silverman Pollack Scholarship, and will support scholarships at the Conservatory and the Preparatory with preference given to students who study the piano or the flute.
“We feel extremely fortunate that the Pollacks agreed to support our students,” says Townsend Plant, associate dean for enrollment and student life. “Their generosity will be of great benefit to Peabody going forward.”
Larry Pollack says one motivation for his parents’ giving might have been the circumstances under which they grew up. Dorothy was raised with six siblings during the Great Depression, so money would have been an obstacle to pursuing music education for her.
“She was limited as a child in terms of what her family could afford,” says Pollack, who recently retired from his nearly 23 years of civilian service as a program manager with the United States Department of Defense. “My mom wanted to make sure that kids nowadays who have financial limitations for other reasons have the opportunity to explore their artistic talents.”
Although Dorothy shifted into work as a court transcriptionist when Larry, her youngest child, was in the fifth grade, she still maintained a connection to music through her brother, Joe, who played the saxophone and the clarinet. Joe listened to jazz on the radio and had his own talent of being able to transcribe the notes he heard onto sheet music, which he sent to Dorothy regularly along with cassette tapes of him playing the songs.
Larry Pollack says his parents, who were married for 72 years, also made an effort to share their love of music with him and his two sisters. When he was growing up, Dorothy and Louis frequently listened to classical music at home, and they also had tickets to many Sunday matinee concerts at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Before they died (Dorothy in 2017 at age 93 and Louis in 2018 at age 97), the Pollacks also supported scholarships at Peabody, and Dorothy was able to meet one of the recipients, Connor Chaikowsky, a violinist who studied at the Peabody Preparatory from 2015 to 2019. Chaikowsky and his mother came to the Pollacks’ home in Rockville and played a private concert for Dorothy, Louis, and Larry.
“My mom found it utterly rewarding to see this young man’s talents,” says Larry Pollack. Reflecting on what it would mean to his parents to know that their bequest will impact many other young musicians like Chaikowsky, he adds, “It would give them fulfillment to know that the money they saved from all of their working years is now going to a cause that is dear to their hearts.”
– Jennifer Walker