A Piano Duet

Richard Casper and Elizabeth Carr

Richard Casper and Elizabeth Carr

On the chilly winter evening of Friday, January 21, 1966, Elizabeth Carr and Richard Casper made their respective ways to Carnegie Hall for a recital. As Elizabeth fondly recalls, she and Richard were members of the “piano crowd”—ardent concertgoers who met often at Carnegie Hall to attend performances by the day’s greatest keyboard virtuosos. That evening, following a recital by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli that featured works by Beethoven, Chopin, and Debussy, Elizabeth and Richard got to talking. They’ve now been married for more than 50 years, and together have witnessed a half-century’s worth of momentous concerts at Carnegie Hall. Driven by their mutual care for the future of our institution, Richard and Elizabeth became members of The Isaac Stern Society of Carnegie Hall by including the Hall in their long-range financial plans, ensuring that future audiences will have access to the kinds of musical experiences that have become intertwined with their own lives.

With their complementary passions for music, Richard’s and Elizabeth’s paths were perhaps destined to converge at Carnegie Hall. Raised in New Jersey, Richard took his first piano lessons at the Osborne apartment building on West 57th Street, from which he could see Carnegie Hall through the window and dream. These early lessons led to Juilliard, and then to a Carnegie Hall debut in 1964, followed by tours throughout the United States and Europe. A hand problem, focal dystonia, ended his promising career in 1979. From 1971 until his retirement in 2002, he served as director of the Cape Conservatory in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Elizabeth, a native New Yorker, won numerous scholarships and awards for study at some of the most prestigious music institutions in America and Europe, and holds degrees in piano performance, music history, and musicology. Like Richard, she enjoyed a successful career as a performer, pedagogue, and music administrator, serving as chair of several committees for the Massachusetts Council on the Arts, as a frequent judge for the National Piano Guild Auditions, and as a trustee of the Newport Music Festival.

Elizabeth is the author of an acclaimed biography of Shura Cherkassky, the legendary Russian piano virtuoso with whom she enjoyed a longtime friendship.

Carnegie Hall, Elizabeth and Richard warmly recount, has filled their lives with “events of compelling interest and true delight.” These moments include some of the Hall’s landmark concerts of the second half of the 20th century. Both were present in 1958 for the triumphant return of Van Cliburn, a lifelong friend, following his victory at the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. In 1965, they witnessed Vladimir Horowitz’s dramatic return to performing after a 12-year absence (“I was more nervous than at any other concert in my life,” Richard remembers). Other highlights include thrilling up-close stage seats for a recital by Claudio Arrau, the Carnegie Hall debut of Evgeny Kissin, and the Concert of the Century, in which musical giants who included Horowitz, Isaac Stern, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Yehudi Menuhin, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Leonard Bernstein joined forces to mark the Hall’s 85th anniversary.

Having been brought together by Carnegie Hall, where they shared countless unforgettable musical moments, Richard and Elizabeth remain loyal friends and concertgoers, making frequent pilgrimages to the Hall from their home on Cape Cod. They are grateful for everything the Hall has given them, and as members of The Isaac Stern Society of Carnegie Hall, Richard and Elizabeth are helping to guarantee that the joy that the Hall has brought them will be experienced by music lovers for generations to come.

You, too, can make a difference with a gift for the future of Carnegie Hall, just like Elizabeth and Richard did. Contact Susan J. Brady at 212-903-9624 or sbrady@carnegiehall.org to get started.