You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Blanche Bloch

1890 – 1980

by Harriet Frazey Ranney

Blanche Bloch was a pioneer on behalf of women in music. Her efforts date back to the early 1930s when she was a founding member of the New York Women’s Orchestra.

Blanche Bloch was born in New York on December 20, 1890, the daughter of Godfrey and Jeanette Estelle (Fried) Bloch. She received her education at the Academy of the Visitation, in Mobile, Alabama, with private piano study in New York City, Vienna, and Berlin. She was a special student at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and also studied conducting with Chalmers Clifton of the National Orchestra Association.

Bloch was married to Alexander Bloch, the violinist and conductor, who was a student of the famous violinist Leopold Auer. She was his accompanist when he made his 1913 New York debut, and the couple performed in concerts for the next ten years, specializing in violin and piano sonatas. They had two children, Alan Edward and Janet Elizabeth.

Bloch was on the music faculties of Rollins College, 1936 to 1943, and the Out-of-Door School in Sarasota, Florida, 1934 to 1937. She wrote two mystery books, The Bach Festival Murders and The Strange Case of Mr. Crawford, as well as numerous articles. She also wrote the libretto for Roeliff’s Dream, a children’s operetta composed by Alexander Bloch.

Blanche Bloch died of cancer on March 5, 1980, in Hillsdale, New York, after a long career as a concert pianist, educator, and writer.


The Bach Festival Murders (1942); “Music: The Leaderless Orchestra.” Nation 127, no. 3307 (1928): 556; “Music on the Air.” Nation 128, no. 3335 (1929): 670–671; “Olga Samaroff.” Woman’s Journal 14 (1929): 24; Roeliff’s Dream. Libretto (1932); The Strange Case of Mr. Crawford (1948).


“Blanche Bloch, a Pianist and Writer of Mysteries.” NYTimes, March 7, 1980, D14; Contemporary Authors. Edited by Frances Locher. Vols. 97–100. (1981), s.v. “Bloch, Blanche”; Derdeyn, Marjorie. Telephone interview with author, May 1, 1996; “Pianist and Mystery Writer Blanche Bloch Dead at 89.” Chicago Tribune, March 8, 1980, sec. 1, p. 19; WWIAJ (1938); Who’s Who in World Jewry (1965), s.v. “Bloch, Blanche.”

More on: Teachers, Music, Fiction
"The Bach Festival Murders" Front Cover by Blanche Bloch
Full image

The Bach Festival Murders font cover by musician, composer, educator, and author, Blanche Bloch.

How to cite this page

Ranney, Harriet Frazey. "Blanche Bloch." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on November 21, 2018) <>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

listen now

Sign Up for JWA eNews


Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs