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Lisa Klevit-Ziegler ’79

March 15, 2020, in Lahr, Germany, from metastatic breast cancer.

A Portland native, Lisa was a lovely bundle of talent, wit, and intelligence. She had a profound and abiding love for beauty, both as it exists in nature and is expressed in the arts.

In 1975, she entered Reed—where her sister Rachel Klevit ’78 was already a student—with the intention of pursuing a career in art. At that time, Reed offered a five-year program jointly with the Portland Art Museum for art majors to graduate with a master’s degree.

From an early age, Lisa played clarinet and while in high school was a member of the Portland Junior Symphony (now the Oregon Youth Orchestra), which she continued while attending Reed. She and fellow student and pianist Neal Goren ’79 performed a concert in Commons.

Lisa was awarded a scholarship to attend the Aspen Music Festival and School, where she studied under the renowned pedagogue Leon Russianoff. The experience inspired her to change plans, and she transferred to the Brooklyn School of Music in New York to continue her lessons with Russianoff. A year later, she was accepted at the Juilliard School, from which she earned both a BM and an MM.

Lisa was granted a Fulbright Fellowship to study historical clarinets (e.g., chalumeau, basset horn) and performance in Switzerland, which she did for two years after graduating from Juilliard. Because the cultural climate for period instruments is much stronger in Europe than the United States, and because she married a German-national French horn player and had two children, Lisa remained in Germany for her nearly 40-year professional career as a musician.

 Performing often and nearly exclusively on period instruments, she traveled frequently and widely and played on at least 50 recordings. (She has been credited variously as Lisa Klevit, Klewitt, Klevitt, Klevit-Ziegler, and so on. The lack of consistency was likely due, in part, to Lisa’s disdain for self-promotion—a quality perhaps more charming than advantageous.)  Lisa also taught private lessons and at the music school in Lahr, on the western edge of the Black Forest in Germany, where she lived at the time of her death.

Her work as a musician did not lessen her interest in the visual arts. She was a talented photographer, which she turned into a minor side business creating greeting cards. Lisa would seek out the art museums or galleries in any venue to which she traveled; her stamina was legendary, and she was without equal in amortizing the cost of entry to a museum. Eight days before she died and unable to walk on her own, she traveled 30 miles to a Freiburg gallery to see a friend’s art show. Her attendants were exhausted; Lisa was energized.

Lisa’s ashes are buried under a small stone near “her” tree in a grove in the Black Forest. She is survived by her two children, Jonathan and Rebekka; her three siblings, Rachel Klevit ‘78, Sarah Klevit-Hopkins, and Benjamin; and her mother, Jody.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2020

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