Sol Schoenbach was a star bassoonist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, but that was not the reason he received the Philadelphia Award. Rather, it was for his work with the Settlement Music School, where he served at its executive director from 1957 until 1981. Started as a social reform movement for immigrants, the school widened to a broader representation of the population following World War II.
nder Schoenbach’s leadership, the school focused more on charting and evaluating individual student development and improving performance and instruction opportunities.
The number of students increased from nearly 700 to about 3,000. “When Sol arrived, Settlement Music School was…somewhat exclusive,” explained Robert Capanna, who became executive director after Schoenbach, “Sol walked in and said…why not open the doors?”
Schoenbach was a colorful man known for wearing bright vests and claiming to have coined the name Queen Village for the area in South Philadelphia around the music school. While at the Philadelphia Orchestra, he organized its pension fund, revived its children’s concert series, and formed a credit union for the musicians.