Blanche Bloch

December 20, 1890–1980

by Harriet Frazey Ranney
Last updated

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

In Brief

Blanche Bloch helped open new opportunities for women in music as both a founding member and conductor of the New York Women’s Orchestra. Bloch studied piano in Europe and conducting under Chalmers Clifton of the National Orchestra Association. She married Alexander Bloch, a violinist and conductor. The couple performed together, specializing in violin and piano sonatas, and wrote a children’s operetta, Roeliff’s Dream. Bloch conducted the New York Women’s Orchestra throughout the 1930s. Bloch wrote two mystery novels, The Bach Festival Murders and The Strange Case of Mr. Crawford.


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.

Selected Works by Blanche Bloch

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.”

Have an update or correction? Let us know


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox

Read the latest from JWA from your inbox.

sign up now

How to cite this page

Ranney, Harriet Frazey. "Blanche Bloch." Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women. 23 June 2021. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 21, 2024) <>.