Susan Rozendaal, baroque violinist and violist, was raised by a violinist who loved Bach.  She later studied with Almita and Roland Vamos and has since played in many early music groups in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, and Oregon. She plays an 18th-century violin by Testore and an 18th-century viola from the same maker’s workshop.


How did you get started in music?  

My father was a professional violinist. Our house was full of music.     

How did you come to play your instrument?   

A violin was under the Christmas tree…

What are a few of your favorite books about music?

Whatever I am currently reading!  Right now:  Stradivari’s Genius by Toby Faber.  Also, the Harvard Dictionary of Music.

What else are you reading?  

Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is about Captain Cook’s adventures and 18th-century botany.

Who are your favorite 17th- and 18th-century composers

Byrd, Monteverdi, Corelli, Handel, and Bach

If you were stranded on a desert island, is there one piece of music you would like to have with you?  

The life output of JS Bach. Sorry; impossible to pick one--maybe one of the Passions?

What drew you to early music and period instrument performance?

Period performance is honest in its representation of the period and style of the time; it has integrity and gives a direct view of the composer’s intentions.

How many instruments do you own?

I’d rather not count. I have small, handmade instruments, as well as full-sized violas and violins of professional quality.

Which one do you play the most?

Baroque viola/violin.

What do you love about HOC?  

Its mission, its quality, its esprit de corps, its repertoire, its outstanding leadership

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not making music?   

Exercise, read, teach, cook, listen to NPR

What is the first thing you think about in the morning?   

Depends on the day. Coffee looms large. Sometimes practicing or reading.

How would you describe the relationship between you and your instrument?   

Very friendly.

Who are your musical heroes?   

Rachel Barton Pine, Yehudi Menuhin, Yo-Yo Ma, Jory Savall, Monica Huggett, Elizabeth Blumenstock  

If you had to play only one composer for the rest of your career, whom would you choose?  

JS Bach

If you had not been a musician, what do you think you would have done instead?  

I would have been another Terry Gross--an NPR  journalist who studies contemporary society and interviews people about their lives and works.