18 Van Wyck Street
Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520

Facebook button  Instagram button

The Bennett Conservatory of Music Alumni

Please help us development this section!

If you attended The Bennett Conservatory of Music as a student, witnessed a remarkable performance by a Bennett student, or have an anecdotal story related to the school, we would greatly appreciate hearing from you. To share your stories or past experiences, please contact the office at 914-271-4825 or email them to bennettconservatory@gmail.com

Peter Salaff  - Instrument(s): violin, Year(s) attended: age 10 - High School
Peter Salaff photo collage

Peter Salaff was director of the String Chamber Music department at Cleveland Institute of Music where he taught since 1995. As a founding member of the Cleveland Quartet he recorded more than 50 chamber works and received a Grammy Award, six Grammy nominations, and Best of the Year honors from Time and Stereo Review. The quartet toured the former Soviet Union, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, Israel, the United States, Europe, and Canada.

Mr. Salaff received Yale School of Music Alumni Association's Certificate of Merit. He has performed as concerto soloist with orchestras and in recital in the U.S. and South America. Ensembles he has coached have won international prizes including 8 Naumburg Awards, Banff International String Quartet Competition Awards, Coleman Chamber Ensemble Awards, Fischoff National Chamber Music Awards, among others.

Mr. Salaff has served on the faculties of the University of ConcepciĆ³n (Chile), State University of New York at Buffalo, and the Eastman School of Music. He has also taught at numerous festivals, including Interlochen, Chamber Music in the Mountains at Echo Glen, the Aspen Music Festival and School, and the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in Germany, the Perlman Music Program, PhoenixPhest in Ann Arbor, and the Chamber Music Connection in Columbus, Ohio, and has coached chamber music and given masterclasses at conservatories and universities in the United States, Germany, Japan, Israel, and New Zealand.

Mr. Salaff has been a judge at many chamber music competitions, including the Yellow Springs Competition, the London International String Quartet Competition, the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the Plowman Chamber Music Competition, and the Coleman Chamber Music Association Competition.

Content courtesy: CityMusic Cleveland, Inc. and Music Academy of the West / Photographs: Barney Taxel


Documentary of The Cleveland Quartet: In the Mainstream: The Cleveland Quartet
Peter Salaff - violin, Donald Weilerstein - violin, Atar Arad - viola, Martha Strongin Katz - viola, Paul Katz - cello (Published on Jan 20, 2013)

Peter Salaff recordings available at: Discogs

New York Times logo



"I STARTED at the Bennett Conservatory of Music when I was about 10 and went there right through high school," recalled Peter Salaff, violinist of the renowned Cleveland Quartet, who returns to his home town of Croton-on-Hudson for a special scholarship fund benefit concert Tuesday. "Charles Bennett was my first teacher, and he was really very inspirational. I wasn't the prodigy type - it took me quite a while to grow musically - but he was always very supportive and took a great deal of interest in what I was doing."

Taking a keen interest in all aspects of their students' development has become a hallmark of the faculty members through the 32 years of the conservatory's history. Teachers of all instruments and voice volunteer free theory classes to their private students and the conservatory offers the pupils ensemble performing opportunities at no additional charge.

About 40 or 50 adults from the community are using the instructional facilities, while at the other end of the age spectrum, preschoolers are formed into elementary percussion or piano classes; dance training is available to children 6 to 17 years old, and teen-agers can take acting classes along with their music lessons. The modest Bennett catalogue says: "This brochure attempts to outline what the conservatory has to offer, but it cannot adequately convey the atmosphere of friendliness, informality, enthusiasm and dedication in which this instruction takes place. It can only imply some of the unique advantages to the student which such a school can offer - the chance to see and hear such a variety of artistic efforts, to take part in coordinated artistic projects, to know that one's own lesson is a small but significant part of a group effort to make life richer through the enjoyment and the disciplines of art."

"The story began a century ago in the wilds of western Canada," said Charles Bennett, chairman of the board of trustees. "My mother and father distinguished themselves there in the arts, especially my mother, who was a fine professional musician, and when we moved to Croton they helped us start a conservatory that would keep up the family memory."

"It still is a family operation," said his wife, Else Bennett, who has been director of the conservatory since 1974. "People seem very happy about being able to send their children to the same place where they themselves took music lessons. It hasn't really changed all that much either - there's a special, unpressured feeling people enjoy. We're not out to make money, we're out to do something for the community, and I think the community appreciates it."

Two more founding Bennetts continue their association with the conservatory they established more than three decades ago: Anne, who teaches guitar, and her husband, Boyd, who is Charles's brother and one of the more versatile musicians in the county. He is in charge of instruction on cello, double bass, horn, trumpet and trombone. The family continues to subsidize the conservatory through donations of instruments and equipment, not to mention time, and a family endowment keeps tuition within manageable levels.

"The conservatory has a charter from the Board of Regents of the State University," explained Charles Bennett, "so we are obliged - and we love - to give services to the community. One type of service is playing concerts at hospitals and rest homes in the area; another is awarding scholarships, and a third is to introduce fine music to our community. What a splendid thing it is to bring top, world-class artists to our little village, as we'll be doing on Tuesday."

Peter Salaff, meanwhile, said he was looking forward with equal anticipation to his return visit. "My folks still live in Croton," he said, "so it's really like coming home. Actually, my whole family studied at the Bennett Conservatory, and in addition to my music, I took art lessons as well. I was very interested in drawing and painting, and a lot of my time was spent right there at the school. It was a wonderful experience."

At Tuesday's benefit recital, Mr. Salaff will join his faculty colleague at the Eastman School of Music, the noted pianist Barry Snyder, for a varied program of sonatas by Corelli, Beethoven and Faure, plus Penderecki's ''Miniatures'' for violin and piano. The starting time is 8 P.M. at the Croton-Harmon High School Auditorium, and tickets are $8 ($5 for students and the elderly). For information about the concert or the school, call the conservatory at 271-4825.

"We really are a very happy family here," Charles Bennett said, "and some great young teachers are coming along to carry the tradition forward."

18 Van Wyck Street, Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520 (map)
914-271-4825    /   bennettconservatory@gmail.com
© Copyright 2020 The Bennett Conservatory of Music