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QuinTango remembers Bruce Steeg

Bruce Steeg, QuinTango's founding pianist, passed away Tuesday evening, October 21,2003 at his home in Maryland, USA. His wife Libby Blatt, QuinTango's bass player, was with him. It was a peaceful conclusion to a struggle with cancer that began in December of 2002 .

Last January we had a wonderful tour in Florida with Bruce, made memorable by the gracious hospitality of our friends in Key West and Ft. Lauderdale and the fact that Bruce played his heart out at every concert. His last public performance with us was the February concert with the Augusta Symphony. His final performance with QuinTango, however, is the heartbreakingly beautiful recording of 'Vida Mia.' In March 2003, in the middle of his treatments, he summoned all his strength and went to the studio to honor the arranger's request that the piece be included on the CD "To Buenos Aires with Love." He was hardly able to sit up, he could not speak, but his fingers told us that his heart and soul were intact. We have made his very last recording, "Vida Mia", free to the public. Click here to download the CD quality MP3 file.

Bruce was a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music. He served as soloist with the U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point as well as appearing as soloist with the National Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, and the Cleveland Orchestra. He toured with Paul Whiteman, Guy Lombardo, and Yul Brynner before coming to Washington, D.C., as conductor of the National Ballet. He performed in concert with Marilyn Horne, Robert Merrill, Beverley Sills, and Michel Legrand. In addition to his work with QuinTango, he was the pianist with the National Symphony Pops under the direction of Marvin Hamlisch. His brilliant piano work can be heard on all of QuinTango's albums.

Bruce's strength, integrity, musicianship and love for music and friends are his legacy. Last summer, when he became aware that he would not recover, he passed his music on to the pianist he had chosen as his successor in QuinTango, Jeffery Watson. This was difficult for us all, but Bruce made us realize how fortunate we were to have found such a wonderful pianist who fit so well into the group; he made us believe that continuing QuinTango's music was the best way to honor him. Bruce's wisdom, vision and generosity will continue to shape our future.

From the Washington Post - Thursday, October 23, 2003; Page B06

Bruce Steeg Pianist, Music Director

Bruce Steeg, 65, the versatile pianist of QuinTango, a Washington area-based chamber ensemble that performed and recorded a repertoire of classical and contemporary tango music, died of cancer Oct. 21 at his home in Temple Hills.

Mr. Steeg helped form the quintet of two violins, cello, bass and piano eight years ago. The group has released three compact discs, most recently "To Buenos Aires with Love" in January.

In 1998, QuinTango performed at the White House after a state dinner for Carlos Menem, then president of Argentina, the country most closely associated with tango music.

Mr. Steeg toured widely with QuinTango, whose members included his wife, bass violinist Libby Blatt. The group played at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C., toured France last year and made local appearances at the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center and the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Center.

The quintet also performed musical shows, sometimes accompanied by dancers, for children at Washington area schools as part of an educational program organized by the Washington Performing Arts Society.

Mr. Steeg, music director of Unity of Fairfax Church, was a native of New York and graduate of the Juilliard School of Music. After a stint in the Army, he became a pianist with the West Point Academy Glee Club.

In the 1960s, he spent four years touring with Guy Lombardo's orchestra. He also played with the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra.

He moved to the Washington area in the 1970s, when he was hired as associate conductor of the Washington Ballet.

He was a member of the American Federation of Musicians.

His marriage to Lana Steeg ended in divorce.

In addition to his wife of 14 years, of Temple Hills, survivors include two children from his first marriage, Susan Bernstein of Longwood, Fla., and Dylan Steeg of Fremont, Calif.; three stepchildren, Lauri Woroniecki of Columbia, Vicki Blatt of Durham, N.C., and Mitchell Blatt of Minneapolis; and six grandchildren.

To contact QuinTango, please email Joan Singer. If you would rather talk in person, the phone/fax number is 703-548-6811.