Kurt W. Geisler, 77, musician, accountant

August 26, 2002|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

Kurt W. Geisler, a professional piano player who opened his own accounting firm, died Friday of emphysema at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. The longtime Hamilton resident was 77.

Born in northern Germany in 1925, Mr. Geisler immigrated to North America with his parents in 1928. They arrived in Montreal and moved to Baltimore about a year later, where Friedrich and Frieda Geisler opened the Harborview Bakery at 45th Street and Eastern Avenue.

Mr. Geisler graduated in 1942 from Kenwood High School, where he learned to play the guitar and piano. He continued with private piano lessons while helping out in his parents' bakery and taking drafting classes at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Mr. Geisler also took accounting classes.

It was not until he joined the local music union, the Musicians Association of Metropolitan Baltimore, that his musical career - his first love - took off.

Starting out, Mr. Geisler accepted almost every piano-playing job he was offered. He played nightclubs and supper clubs, including the Mardi Gras Supper Club on Harford Road and the Blue Mirror on Charles Street. He played weddings and bar mitzvahs and provided background music at dinner and cocktail parties in Guilford.

"He'd earn $35 for a job that lasted three or four hours, and when a job paid $75, he'd celebrate," recalled his niece Loretta Geisler of Arbutus. "When he did his taxes, he'd have a stack of W2s like you wouldn't believe."

As Mr. Geisler made a name for himself, he could afford to be choosier in accepting jobs. He played piano at the Bonnie View Country Club and the Greenspring Inn and was the piano player of choice for the Ink Spots whenever the singing quartet toured the East Coast.

There were few song requests that he couldn't honor, regardless of whether he had sheet music for it.

"He knew music inside and out ... and he had a lot of music theory, so he didn't have to read music," his niece said. "If he knew the melody, he could put all the chords and fill in to it."

Mr. Geisler realized early on that he couldn't pay his bills on music alone.

"He liked numbers and loved math, so he went into accounting," his niece said. "He knew a lot of people through music and ... it just kind of snowballed. He never advertised - it was all word-of-mouth."

He ran the Hamilton Management Company out of his home on Evergreen Avenue, concentrating on accounting work for businesses and personal income taxes. At one time, his client list included about half the musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, his niece said.

Mr. Geisler enjoyed hunting, fishing and baseball. He was a member of the National Rifle Association. Until this year, he and several friends traveled to nursing homes and retirement communities in the area to play for the senior citizens.

A memorial service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. John Lutheran Church, 300 West Maple Road in Linthicum.

He is survived by nieces and nephews Frederick and Loretta Geisler of Arbutus and Otto and Linda Schlicht of Pasadena; two great-nieces; two great-nephews; and two great-great-nieces.

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