Remembering ROGER GROSS (1938 - 2013)

(ca. 1985, with his beloved pug Listo, and antiques. Courtesy Gregor Benko)

I guess you could describe Roger Gross as one of those extraordinarily knowledgeable individuals you might meet in New York City. He was friendly, willing to share that knowledge with most people, and he knew most people. Roger was a professional music autograph dealer and a partner with Victor Alonzo in an antique business called “Objetsplus”. Most of his clients were also his friends.
I shared a love of music with Roger and we would often meet for dinner before going to an opera or concert. He would tell stories about his mother’s parties where her close friend, Zinka Milanov and other opera greats would meet…about travels in Europe, summers in Venice, always with memories of legendary opera performances. His life was filled with beautiful music and good food. In recent months when Roger had difficulty walking we would often meet at “Lincoln”, the restaurant just across the plaza from the Metropolitan Opera. He never gave up. He attended every opening night of a new production. When I asked him why he didn’t take more evenings off, he said going out was better than staying home. He had a gift for making the most of his life and wasn’t going to shut it down because of physical pain.

(Milanov in forza, Gioconda and at her farewell, courtesy Charles Mintzer)

His frequent catalogues of music autographs were encyclopedic…an expensive listing of signed photos, letters, and ephemera notated with an insightful appreciation of great musicians  and singers. Collectors looked forward to them and even one, such as I, always found something I’d never seen before. He taught me a lot, and I listened because he was the real thing – a connoisseur.

Roger was a small man who exuded energy and humor. His flinty sense of humor lightened our discussions. I found him to be genuinely funny. His lower case emails, with their frequent misspellings, were always charming. I have many memories of Roger holding court in the Patron’s Room at the Met, entertaining friends and acquaintances with descriptions of performances from the past that put the current productions to shame. He was a unique character, an original who couldn’t be duplicated. He’ll be missed.

Harold Bruder