Susan Barbara Martula, 80, retired principal clarinetist with the Albany Symphony, died on June 28, 2021 at her home in Troy, New York.
Susan, the daughter of the late John and Helen Martula, grew up in Hadley, Massachusetts. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Smith College in 1962, and afterwards studied at the Paris Conservatory and worked for Nadia Boulanger. Upon her return to the States, she studied clarinet with Leon Russianoff at Manhattan School of Music, receiving a Master of Fine Arts in 1964. As a professional clarinetist Susan continued to study throughout her career and was a student of Larry Combs and, in later years, Steve Hartman. In addition to her work with the Albany Symphony she was principal clarinetist of the Berkshire Symphony. She also played with the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski, the Colorado Philharmonic, Lake George Opera, and others. She has recorded with Albany Records, New World, and Nonesuch.
Susan served on the faculties of Skidmore College and Williams College, where she was artist associate, led the Williams Clarinet Choir and performed with the Williams College Chamber Players. She was adjunct instructor in music at Emma Willard School and was the founding conductor of the orchestra.
Throughout her distinguished career, Susan taught and nurtured scores of young musicians. Her home was fondly referred to as “Camp Martula” by artists who traveled to the Capital Region to perform with the Albany Symphony. She took great delight in hosting her visiting colleagues, and regaled them with legendary dinners precisely timed to get the group to the concert hall on schedule.
Susan was fun to be around. She was charming, gracious, and had a keen wit. People enjoyed her elegant sense of fashion and great smile. She displayed these same qualities during her recent years of treatment for her illness and the pandemic. She stayed as active as possible, even swimming long distances in the ocean which was a lifelong passion, and continuing her Pilates, another passion. Most importantly, she planned and did joyful things like getting ice cream with those she loved. Susan knew how to enjoy every moment that was given to her.
She was predeceased by her husband of 29 years, David A. Perry, M.D. She is survived by brothers Dick (Ann) Martula and David (Tanyss) Martula, nephew Stefan and niece Rose (David), grandniece Brooke, stepdaughter Noelle and stepson Nathan (Amy), goddaughter Deslyn (Alex), and eight grandchildren: Kage, Kevin, Cameron, Mia, MacKenzie, Isabelle, Penda and Charlotte.
Thank you to the Community Hospice of Rensselaer County and all the health care workers, especially Bibi, Jennifer, Dee, and Wendy, who assisted Susan during her illness. Special thanks also to Susan’s circle of deeply devoted friends, especially Ellen, Victor, and Mitsuko.
Burial will be private and a memorial service is planned for later this year.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in memory of Susan B. Martula to the Albany Symphony Orchestra Inc., 19 Clinton Avenue, Albany, NY 12207, or to the Berkshire Symphony, Bernhard Music Center, 54 Chapin Hall Drive, Williamstown, MA 01267.