Franz Jolowicz, 86, owner of classical record store


By Albert Amateau

Franz Jolowicz, the celebrated owner of Discophile, a classical record shop in the Village until it closed in 1983, and renowned for his knowledge and love of music, died Nov. 8 at his home on E. 10th St. at the age of 86.

He had been seriously ill for a year with heart trouble and a recurrence of cancer that had been diagnosed 20 years earlier, according to friends and relatives.

Born in Posen, Germany, in 1919, he was raised in Leipzig and moved with his family to Paris in the late 1930s. He joined the French Foreign Legion in which he served in North Africa during World War II and after the war worked for the American Red Cross Overseas Association in Italy.

“His memory was prodigious, his heart was big and his interests were many, but his knowledge and love of music was what made Discophile a mecca for people looking for rare recordings of serious music,” said Pat Payandeh, a Village resident and a friend of Franz Jolowicz for nearly 40 years. “I had friends in Australia who would ask me to get records [at Discophile that] they couldn’t find anywhere,” Payandeh said.

Albert ten Brink, who worked at Discophile on W. Eighth St. in 1975 when Jolowicz was manager, paid tribute to his devotion to music and the breadth of his expertise. “It was more than a record store; it was a music store. We had people who could talk to customers about opera, people who knew orchestral music. We had orders for rare records from Japan, England, Germany, you name it. We would find records sometimes after a year or more, but we would find them,” ten Brink said.

“Franz was open to all kinds of music. He made Discophile a center for new wave music by people like Patti Smith, so fans from C.B.G.B. would meet there. Some of them would hear ‘St. Matthew’s Passion’ and say ‘What’s that?’ and would start buying classical records,” said ten Brink, a dealer in rare long-playing classical records.

Jolowicz managed the E. Eighth St. store and an affiliated rare record shop on Eighth Ave. until 1978, when he inherited the business from Joe Greenspan, the founder. The store closed after Tower Records came to the Village and CD’s began to replace vinyl analog records.

Jolowicz was a friend of Newell Jenkins, a conductor and a founder of Clarion Music Society and an advocate for classical music played on original instruments. Jolowicz served for many years as a board member of Clarion. “Franz had the most profound and delicate knowledge of music of anyone I knew,” said Cornelia Bessie, longtime president of Clarion.

Jolowicz was also on the board of Voices of Ascension, a vocal group that began at Church of the Ascension in the Village.

“Franz would go everywhere, concerts by smaller musical groups, dance performances, theater — especially Off-Broadway Theater,” said Mary Ritchie Smith, another board member of Clarion.

“He was a great fan of the dance company Pilobolus,” said Doris Diether, a dance writer for The Villager. “If they had a two-week engagement at The Joyce, he would be at 12 performances,” Diether said.

A cousin, Kathryn Jolowicz, said the family publishing business began with four brothers in the 1870s. In the U.S., its name is Academic Publishers. The family, of Jewish origins, has been Christian since the early 1800s. Franz, whose baptismal name was Dietrich Franz, was the son of Ernst and Hedwig Meischneider Jolowicz, both doctors. Ernst Jolowicz, who died 40 years ago, was a psychiatrist, and Hedwig, who died in 1973, was a pediatrician.

Another cousin, Kathe Jolowicz, of San Diego, also survives. A brother, Raymondo, of Mexico City, died last April and a cousin, Peter, of New Haven, died two years ago.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Sun. Dec. 4 at the Church of the Ascension parish house, 12 W. 11th St.