Leroy Ostransky, Composer And Jazz Author
AP: Seattle Times Staff
TACOMA - Leroy Ostransky, a longtime composer, music educator and author of three books on jazz, died after a long illness. He was 75.
Mr. Ostransky, who died Monday, was a professor emeritus of music and composer-in-residence at the University of Puget Sound.
"He was a pioneer in the area of jazz education in higher education," said James Sorensen, dean of the School of Music at UPS. "Leroy was one of the very first to bring jazz into the academy."
Mr. Ostransky wrote his first symphony when he graduated with a doctoral degree from the University of Iowa. In all, he composed five symphonies. When his "Symphony No. 4: American" was debuted by the Seattle Symphony on Oct. 23, 1975, Gov. Dan Evans declared "Leroy Ostransky Day" in Washington.
Mr. Ostransky also wrote scores of instructional pieces for classrooms. His books on jazz were: "Understanding Jazz," "The Anatomy of Jazz" and "Jazz City."
In 1990, Mr. Ostransky published an autobiographical memoir, "Sharkey's Kid." The book documented the first 13 years of his life in New York. He wrote a comic opera called, "The Melting of Molly," said his daughter, Sonya Ostransky Wind. The opera was about a woman trying to lose weight. The prolific Mr. Ostransky wrote a Sunday column, "Notes and Comments," in The Morning News Tribune for 23 years. He had a radio show called "Oh, Oh Ostransky." His music reviews also appeared in The Seattle Times.
People magazine named Mr. Ostransky one of the 12 greatest teachers in America in 1975. The Tacoma Arts Commission honored Mr. Ostransky in September 1992 with an Excellence in the Arts Award.
In 1981 and 1983, family members said, Mr. Ostransky suffered debilitating strokes that forced his retirement from UPS.
Mr. Ostransky's survivors include his wife, Natalie; a daughter, Sonya; two sisters, Dorothy Herzog and Claire Verdi; a brother, Seymour Ostransky; and relatives in New York, Ohio and Florida.
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