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Belt Buckles

1941    Born December 5th (8:06pm) in Beth Israel Hospital (NYC). Dr. Ben Segal attending. In reaction, Japanese attack Pearl Harbor two days later. His first residence is his grandparents' house at 2653 Bainbridge Avenue in the Bronx just down the street from Poe Park. A few weeks later the family moves to 2860 Grand Concourse to escape the direct and constant supervision of grandmother Anna Robinson.

1945    Moves from Grand Concourse to 180 Riverside Drive (apartment 6E) in Manhattan with parents and new baby brother, Fred.

1947    Enters P.S. 93 where crowning achievement is captaincy of the indoor monitor squad. Spent much of the 6th grade as a video monitor getting and showing films, and not going to class with buddy, Mike Molino. Spent most of grades one to five drawing cars, sailing ships, and rockets. Finds Valerie Howitt very alluring.

1948    Starts piano lessons with Mme. Moshke. Horowitz not worried.

1950    Abandons the piano and switches to trumpet lessons with Edward Treutel in an attempt to emulate the grandfather he never knew, Sam Yablonsky, who was the first trumpet at the Schubert Theater.

1953   Gets new Benge B flat trumpet for $225 (#3435) and starts to get serious about practicing.
    Enters rapid advance program at Joan of Arc Junior High School. Excelled at punch ball and Chinese handball during recess. By skipping the 8th grade it guarantees that he will later arrive in high school even more socially retarded than he already is.

1954    Family moves to 610 West End Avenue on same floor as Gunther Schuller and upstairs from Jerome Moross.

1955    Enters High School of Music & Art. Starts as first cornet in Senior Band under Ben Lindeman. After a deadly semester in Orchestra 5 he becomes co-principal trumpet (with Sol Motola) in Senior Orchestra under Alexander Richter and Isidore Russ. Studies conducting. Takes composition lessons from Morris "Mark" Lawner. Develops a great interest in art, especially the lines and curves of the female form. Has hopeless crush on Roberta, niece of world-famous conductor.
          Spends summer as last bugler at Camp Swago in Damascus PA.

1956    Because he is performing poorly at school his parents send him to the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville Connecticut for academic summer tune-up. It works like a charm. Locked in the study hall everyday he finally learns how to study. Plays golf every afternoon. Upon his return to M&A his grades jump up 10 points.

1957    Travels to Puerto Rico with his dad to attend the Casals Music Festival.

1958    Wins letter as co-captain of NYC high school championship golf team.
           Attends Aspen Music Festival and studies trumpet with Wes Lindskoog. Falls in love for the first time with Lucy Harris, a pianist from California. She returns home before he does and he spends the rest of the summer pining for her.
          Recovers from broken heart and does trumpet studies with Robert Nagel.
          Enters City College of New York. Theory studies with William Dabney Gettel. Composition studies with Mark Brunswick and Paul Turok. Goes on blind date to House Plan dance and falls in love with Laura Martin. He is Jewish and she is not, so both sets of parents strongly object to their brief tryst.
1959   Jazz trumpet studies with Charlie Colin who had played in father’s band years earlier. Fails to qualify for beret or horn-rimmed glasses. Dizzy not worried.
          Spends summer in Mexico with cousin Maxine Jablons and her boyfriend. Studies Spanish language, Aztec art, and beautiful brown-skinned senoritas.
     Pledges Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity in a desperate attempt to be a regular college Joe and “one of the guys." Results were mixed. Because he cannot drink beer his college career is in jeopardy.

1960     Spends summer in Quebec studying French language and cuisine. Falls in love with Phyllis, an American pianist he heard practicing the Grieg Piano Concerto in the ballroom of the Chateau Frontenac. After two weeks of passion they drive back to NYC in her VW Beetle and she goes back to her fiance. He gets more practice coping with rejection.

1961    Spends summer as busboy at Unity House in the Poconos where tips were paltry, but the bonus is the shapely and vivacious Ellen Gelpar. They explore the wonderful world of sex together and marry later that year so that they could escape from their families of origin. The "marriage" ended 10 months later when Ellen emptied their bank account and absconded with the grand sum of $132.54. The marriage was later annulled. Today it would be considered just two crazy kids living together without spiritual bond.

1962   Earns B.A. degree in music from CCNY. Fails to graduate cum laude by 1/100 of a point guaranteeing that he won't amount to much.
          New York State Regents Teaching Fellowship goes unused.
          Turns down full scholarship to Brandeis University to do one year of graduate studies at Harvard with Pierre Boulez and Leon Kirchner for full tuition.

1963    The walk to Harvard is long from his sad little room on Austin Street. His next- door neighbor is Hector Posada y Ochoa from a wealthy Columbian dynasty. Gets a C in John Ward's musicology class because he does an uninspired job of transcribing William Byrd's lute tablature and is asked to leave Harvard at end of the year. Enrolls at NYU.

1964   Earns M.A. degree from New York University.
          Falls in love with the voluptuous Marcy Cantor who, as it turns out, is already engaged to some other guy. Just one more failed Mission Impossible!
          Is hired for the fall semester as a full-time adjunct instructor at CCNY even though he is only twenty-two years old and knows almost nothing.
    Takes first of many trips to Europe. Arrives on TWA Super Constellation and tours England, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, and Germany on a Mobylette motorbike. After 4000 kilometers on the road he is so brown he is mistaken for a terrorist by Federal Agents at JFK airport.
    Buys first car, a Triumph TR 4a.

1965    Begins four years of teaching music in NYC high schools in order to avoid the Viet Nam Era draft: Stuyvesant, Lincoln, Sheepshead Bay, and Julia Richman.     
          Teaches at CCNY in the evening. Plays a lot of loud music for tired students.
          Meets and marries the amazing Roberta N., teacher of English at Herman Ridder JHS. They set up home at 740 West End Avenue. Reconnects with Boulez and begins lifetime friendship.

1967       As 6-Day War ends he and Roberta fly to Israel for the first of many trips. Is adopted by Moshe and Zipi Peli and their daughters Liraz and Idit.

1968    The NYC Board of Education finally administers the Music Teacher Test and he scores highest of all the candidates and is assigned to Ben Franklin High School.           
       Now too old for the draft, he is hired as full-time lecturer at CCNY.                      Serves as Associate Director of Lake Bryn Mawr Camp, Honesdale, PA for three years. Known as "Uncle Steve" to 150 well-to-do Jewish girls lucky enough to spend eight weeks away from home.         
      Discovers his psychic abilities when a deck of cards beckons him to study the Tarot. Spends 10 years as a part-time, gratis fortune-teller.

1969    Fortran 4-B studies at Queens College Electronic Music Studio with Hubert "Tuck" Howe. Programs Buchla and Moog synthesizers to produce strange sounding music no one wants to hear using a tray full of IBM punch cards.

1971    Boulez becomes music director of NY Philharmonic. Jablonsky spends six years observing rehearsals, concerts, and behind the scenes life of a major orchestra. Relinquishes his foolish dream of being its conductor.

1972 Lake Bryn Mawr Camp is sold after 27 years of administration.

1973    Earns Ph.D. degree from N.Y.U. Thesis: “The Development of Tonal Coherence as Evidenced in the Revised Operas of Giuseppe Verdi.”  Martin Chusid, patient and understanding mentor.          
        Inducted in Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Honor Society.         
     Invited by Leon Barzin to be a conducting fellow at the National Orchestral Association (3 years).          
     Promoted to assistant professor.       
   He and Roberta move to Golden's Bridge in Westchester County.     
   He is the last person to conduct at Lewisohn Stadium when he leads the CCNY Symphonic Band in the commencement concert.          

1974    Receives Founders Day Award for doctoral scholarship from N.Y.U.            Begins two years of psychotherapy with Milt Wilner that finally enables him to walk and chew gum at the same time.

1975    Receives National Endowment for the Arts Composers Fellowship for minimalist “Wind Sextet.”
          Serves as music adviser for Camera III (CBS-TV) series devoted to modern music conducted by Boulez.

1976    Participant in Exxon/Affiliate Artists Conducting Program. Auditions for assistant conductor posts at Buffalo and Rochester. No soap.
His multi-media “Wisconsin Death Trip” is performed by NY Philharmonic and Milwaukee Symphony with nice reviews.
          Becomes ASCAP member.
          Conducts City Symphony at Town Hall. "Music By New Yorkers for New Yorkers." Soloists: John Lewis and Judith Raskin.

1977   Inspired by the work of artist Vladimir Fuka he develops concept of Musigraphics—artistic analyses of musical compositions and produces more than three dozen works in that vein.

1978    With wife, Roberta, founds Lifetime Learning Systems, Inc. the nation’s leading publisher of corporate-sponsored educational materials. Serves for twelve years as creative director and CFO.

1979    He and Roberta move to 155 Staples Road in Easton CT.

          “The Two Stephen Jablonskys.” Bridgeport Jewish Community Center presents two-man show of photographs by Stephen Jablonsky the engineer from Stratford and Musigraphics by Stephen Jablonsky the composer from Easton who met quite by accident thanks to a UPS mistake.

1982    Sabbatical year and a half from CCNY. Enrolls in Family Counseling degree program in Bridgeport University. After 28 credits of course work and six-month internship he drops out two courses shy of the degree because he realizes he is too young and inexperienced to counsel anyone about life.
1983   Returns to teaching and is promoted to associate professor.

1986    Lifetime Learning Systems is sold, but he and Roberta continue to run the company until 1990. A four-year non-compete clause in the sale contract keeps them out of the business until 1994.

1988    Father, Ben Jablonsky, dies at age 79.

1990    One-man show of paintings, The Landmark Gallery, sponsored by the Stamford Art Association.

1991    Second one-man show of paintings, The Landmark Gallery, sponsored by the Stamford Art Association.
       Purchases first personal computer.

1992    Begins composing computer-generated music using his Mac Quadra 900, Korg O/1W synthesizer, and Opcode/Vision software.

1994    Serves for three years as CFO and creative director of Youth Media International founded by business mogul wife, Roberta. Replicates success of Lifetime Learning Systems.

1995    Enters psychotherapy to discover the source of his fear and anger that, apparently, was well hidden because it took four years and $40,000 to find it. Comes to understand the nature of addictive behaviors and forgives himself in the process. Later he forgives everyone else including his parents.

1997    Mother, Adelaide Jablonsky, dies five days shy of her 85th birthday.

1998    Separates from Roberta and moves to Westover Road in Stamford CT.
           With the help of his high school dream girl (see 1955) he works through the last stages of his psychotherapeutic process and retires from the emotional judgment business. After a forty-year hiatus she teaches him how to trust his heart to a woman but she is married and they must part.
           Meets Sophia, Queen of Korea, the woman with the million dollar smile.

1999    Writes three educational resource guides for art, music, and communication/technology teachers for Disney’s “Fantasia 2000.” Published by Youth Media International and is still available on the Internet.
           Divorced from Roberta. Sophia moves in to fill the void.

2001    First listing in “Who’s Who in America.”
           His wonderful dachshund, Princess Kitzel, dies on a day in October that is seared in his memory.

2002    Becomes chairman of the Music Department, and, at age 60 has to slowly learn a whole new profession, proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

2003    Writes “The Use of Tonic Delay in the Context of Extreme Chromaticism. ” Available upon request. Marries Korean-born beauty, Tina Sophia Lee, singer, dancer, chef extraordinaire.

2004    “Introduction aux graphes de tonalité: Le cercle chromatique des quintes,” Musurgia, Volume X/3-4, pp. 91-104.
          “Thinking Harmonically at the Keyboard” is published privately.

2005    His textbook, “Tonal Facts & Tonal Theories” is published by Kendall/Hunt with accompanying Theory I Workbook.
         “Wagner’s Harmonic Game Plan in the Prelude to Tristan und Isolde,” is accepted by Elliott Antokoletz, editor of the International Journal of Musicology. Publisher bankrupt = no publication.
        “The All-Star Rhythm & Pitch Book” published by Kendall/Hunt.
        Because no one else wants the job he is re-elected to a second term as chair.
        A gift by the name of SunHee Lee arrives to embellish the fabric of his life.

2006    The Fabulous Fibonacci Numbers, Prometheus Books. Writes chapter: “Fibonacci and Musical Form,” published 2007, pp. 271-91. Thanks Al Posamentier.
           Theory II Workbook for Tonal Facts& Tonal Theories is published.

2007    “Rainbow Quartet Revisited” is premiered by the Momenta String Quartet.
          “Seven Early Pieces for Piano” is premiered in Taiwan. Elected chair of the Humanities & Arts P&B.

2008    Completes 40 years as full-time teacher at the City College. With certainty, he learned more than his students.
          Is re-elected for third term as chair of the Music Department.
          In August celebrates 2/3 of a century of good luck and good health followed immediately by spinal stenosis and a bum knee. Onset of much humility. Athroscopic surgery repairs torn meniscus. The spinal stenosis is a daily reminder that all learning involves pain.

2010   June: Finishes his 92nd semester of teaching and eighth year as chair of the Music Department. So far no one has caught on.
         Attains the ripe old ago of 69--a numerological reminder that he and the fates have embraced each other at opposite ends for what seems like a very long time. In geological time it has been just the blink of an eye.
         His life is made even more wonderful by the addition of an angel by the name of Xiu Yin Chen after SunHee is deported back to China.

2011   May: The Music Department re-elects him to a fourth term as chair not realizing that this automatically makes him Chair for Life. After hearing the news Kim Jung Il dies!
     Spends the summer writing Gaining Music Literacy, a textbook for neophytes designed to turn them into budding musicians. If this book doesn't do it, nothing will.
    Turns 70 and doesn't look a day over 68!
    Discovers that 2 Aleve a day plus an anti-inflammatory like Siberian ginseng and Traumeel keep his spinal stenosis at bay and no longer wakes up as stiff as a board.

2012    Finishes 10th year as chair of the Music Department. Spends summer writing Molto Cantabile!, a collection of 500 of the world's great melodies designed for college sight singing classes.

2013   Finishes 49th year of teaching and 11th year as chair. In a moment of clarity he realizes being a professor is much easier than being chair and the pay is the same, so next year will be his last in that august position.

2014  Finishes 50th year of teaching. On June 30th the 12-year reign of Grand Poobah of the Music Department comes to an end. Now some other fool will be chair 24/7/52 for no thanks and no compensation. Jablonsky returns to being a happy-go-lucky professor. Celebrates by compiling what may be the first comprehensive list of instrumental music in F sharp major and G flat major. "Why?" you ask...

2015 Receives the Teacher Service Award from the CCNY Alumni Association at a dinner event in the Great Hall. The chicken marsala was the best part of the evening. Jablonsky now has another plaque to add to his office collection...you can't have too many plaques!
      He is back to teaching Music 10100 and creates free textbook for those lucky enough to study with him.
     As a magnet for Asian beauty he can't be beat. The addition of the devilish HongJuan Zhang to his seraglio is invigorating and stimulating beyond compare.
   His baby brother, Fred Jablonsky, turns 70. Wow!

2016 HongJuan proves to be as crazy as she was sexy and had to be let go. God, in her infinite wisdom, sends him an adorable lady with the same last name as the concubine she is replacing. Lucy Zhang is blessedly mature and stable and is also intelligent and talented and has a million dollar smile.
      Wife Sofia becomes permanent Stamford resident and finally gets the car of her dreams.
      This is the year he reaches 3/4 of a century. The International Journal of Musicology is back in business and his Wagner article is finally published after a 10-year hiatus.

2017  The fall semester is the beginning of his 50th year of teaching as a full-time faculty member. Can retirement be far away?
         A pinched nerve in the neck caused by tennis over exertion results in lose of control of his right arm for two months. A great reminder that man is mortal.
         Like most Americans he is glad to have survived the first year of the Trump administration, but just barely.
        His best friend, Danny Elliot, dies in LA and the shock wave of mortality is felt as far away as Stamford CT.      
        Authors Music in the Big Apple a music appreciation textbook for New Yorkers.

2018   Completes 100th semester as a full-time faculty member of the Music Department. Seems to enjoy teaching more than ever.

2019   After 55 years in the classroom he retires in August.
          As a part-time adjunct professor he continues to teach the unwashed on Friday afternoons.         
          As a volunteer he teaches ESL to a Spanish-speaking immigrant population in Stamford.         
          He survived almost three years of Donald Trump without going insane.

2020  The Covid-19 pandemic attacks an unprepared nation and CCNY sends everyone home in March. Remote teaching turns out to be seriously flawed. Along with thousands of other adjuncts he is notified that his services are no longer required at the end of the semester. For the first time in 56 years he has no job. Spends the remainder of the year making untold numbers of music videos for his YouTube channel (The Wellspring).

2021   America rids itself of the Trump plague despite a January insurrection and the promulgation of The Big Lie. The GOP decides to remove democracy from the American landscape.      
       He and his wife have been double vaccinated as well as boosted so they avoid the dreaded virus. They travel through a world without smiles because everyone is masked. The Covid virus is here to stay. Booster #2 is in the offing.
       Biden tries to repair a nation devastated by four years of malicious incompetence.