Beloved Member Martha Bixler Dies at 93

It is with great sadness that we announce the death by natural causes of founding member Martha Bixler at the age of 93. Martha has been a key figure in the growth of the American recorder and early music movement since the 1950s.

She held Bachelor degrees from Smith College and the Yale University School of Music and a Master's degree from Brooklyn College. She has long been active with the American Recorder Society (ARS). She was a member of the Board of Directors, twice President of the organization, editor of the Members' Library Editions and active on various committees. Her personal story of the first fifty years of the American Recorder Society, The American Recorder Society and Me; a Memoir, is available on the ARS web site.

She taught recorder, harpsichord and early dance at various colleges including Wagner College and Sarah Lawrence College, as well as at innumerable recorder and early music workshops around the United States, Canada, England and Ireland. As a performer, she played with a number of prominent early music ensembles including the New York Pro Musica, Musica Sacra, the Bach Aria Group and the Berkshire Bach Society.

She was the editor of a number of arrangements for recorders and recorded for Columbia Records and Decca Gold Label.

She also enjoyed playing viol and sackbut and was a regular participant at our Historic Brass Festivals. She, along with her good friends Susan Wilcox and Charlotte Leonard, were known at the annual Historic Brass Festivals as the "Sackbut Sisters".

Click on the title of this article to read the full version including some memories of Martha by the two remaining "Sackbut Sisters".

Remembrances from her Fellow "Sackbut Sisters"

I Remember Martha

Martha Bixler was my musical mentor and my New York City Guide. I first met her at recorder workshops in Colorado. She valued friends so much when she heard I wanted to visit NYC, she insisted I stay with her and that we spend some evenings playing music. I was delighted to meet her sweet, devoted husband Richard and her cats, but much to my surprise, I found that she was also a brass and viol player. Of course, playing together meant she would give me a lesson and introduce me to Machaut forwards and backwards. As a beginning brass player myself, I valued her tips and from then on we roomed together at HBS summer gatherings along with Charlotte Leonard. Thus we became known as the “Sackbut Sisters” and wore the name proudly. I will miss her dedication to music and the musical education of everyone around her. Although her long career always impressed me, I’m happiest to remember her as a friend.

Susan Wilcox
October 16, 2020

Remembering Martha

Some of my fondest memories of Martha, besides being part of the indomitable "Sackbut Sisters," was spending time chatting, eating, petting cats (Julia and Despina), and playing recorder in her Manhattan apartment. We just had so much fun there as well as at the numerous Early Brass Festivals we attended over the years - the trio always roomed together, and played ensemble music until we were told by neighboring conference goers to stop! She hosted a recorder party/playing session every Monday night in her home in NYC and her devoted students would appear bearing wine, cheese and recorders. Susy Wilcox and I were lucky to attend a couple of these sessions over the years and Martha's knowledge and pedagogical skills were impressive. Roger Federer has also lost a devout fan, and I have lost a dear friend and supportive colleague.

Charlotte Leonard
October 16, 2020