Barbara Ellen (Schwartz) Meixner
March 3, 1942 – October 6, 2021
Davis, California – After a life of music, family and friends, Barbara Ellen Meixner passed away peacefully in her Davis home on October 6, 2021, after a brief but courageous battle with cancer. She was 79 years old.
Barbara’s many musical activities included playing the piano, teaching and composing, as well as performing with chamber music ensembles and bell choirs, and singing in choral groups. In the 1990s, she composed and released a popular series of second piano accompaniments (still in press) for much of the Suzuki piano repertoire.
In 1980, Barbara began teaching the Suzuki piano to countless children and training their parents. She attended the first American training institute with the Japanese master teacher in San Francisco and then trained with American master teachers in Sacramento and elsewhere.
With a friend and Suzuki piano teacher, Liz Young, Barbara organized plays for Davis’ students. She has also hosted graduation recitals, including an incredible concert in Sacramento with several grand pianos on stage.
For much of her teaching career, Barbara was on the leadership of the Sierra branch of the Suzuki Music Association of California. Founder of SMAC, she was also past president. She was also an active member of the Davis Music Teachers ‘Association and the Music Teachers’ Association of California.
Towards the end of her professional teaching career, Barbara added mature students and joined a small group of Davis pianists who met monthly to share their pieces. During recent tenure at the home, Barbara has taught at a distance. Known as a meticulous, dedicated and caring teacher, she returned to live teaching until her health forced her to retire.
Beyond the joy of teaching, Barbara had recently focused on conducting and arranging music for the Juuliebells Handbell and Handchime Choir at Davis Unitarian Universalist Church. When she founded Juuliebells in 2010, she named the choir after her beloved friend Julie Partansky, the late mayor of Davis, whose estate provided funds to purchase three octaves of bells and chimes. The name of the choir also recognizes the choir’s connection to the UU Church.
In the wider community, Juuliebells has performed with the Davis Community Church Bell Choir, the Davis Chorale and the Vocal Art Ensemble. They also presented programs for University Farm Circle, Davis Seniors Communities and special events.
Barbara Ellen Meixner was born in Walla Walla, WA. When she was 18 months old, her family moved to Colville, WA, where she graduated from high school among the senior 12 year olds (students who spent their first 12 years of schooling with the same people).
With a major in piano, she received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music from Mills College in Oakland. She also studied harmony, counterpoint, composition and orchestration with leading composers Morton Subotnick, Luciano Berio and Darius Milhaud.
After Barbara married Helmut Meixner in 1971, the couple lived in Vienna, Austria; Los Angeles; and Cincinnati. They divorced in 1980 and Barbara moved to Davis, where she made her home until her death.
Barbara is survived by her sister Debbie Brozik, her niece Jasmine Griffin, her nephew Forest Greenough, her great-nieces and nephews and several cousins. She was predeceased by her parents, August “Gus” Schwartz and Martha (Reiswig) Schwartz, and by her sister Kathye Alyse Smith.
Barbara will be sadly missed by her family, friends and many others whose lives she touched with her gift of music, confident nature, authenticity and positive approach to life. A celebration of Barbara’s life is planned for spring 2022.
Posted by The Sacramento Bee on October 23, 2021.