Barbara Maier Gustern 1935-2022

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Barbara Maier Gustern

Broadway and cabaret singing coach Barbara Maier Gustern passed away Wednesday, March 15 from a traumatic brain injury at the age of 87. Her death was the result of a vicious attack last Thursday in front of her apartment building in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. The woman who assaulted her is still at large.

Raised in Boonville, Indiana, Barbara received a B.
A. from DePauw University and a master’s degree in psychology from Columbia University. She was classically trained in opera and, after briefly working in psychology, she began working in musicals.

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She married Josef Donald Gustern in 1963 (he died in 1987), who she met while singing at the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel in Riverdale, New York. The appeared together in the cast of The Three Penny Opera at the Ephrata Star Playhouse. She then became a teacher at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

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Among her well-known students were Blondie’s Debbie Harry, Taylor Mac, Justin Vivian Bond, and Diamanda Galas. She also coached the 2019 Broadway cast of Oklahoma! At the time of her death, she was working with Barbara Bleier, Austin Pendleton, and Paul Greenwood on their new cabaret show celebrating the songs of Stephen Sondheim and Oscar Hammerstein.

Cabaret Scenes and the American Songbook Association offer our heartfelt condolences to Barbara’s family and friends.