Much like his beloved Mozart, Timothy Rowe was a great musical talent that left the world all too soon.
The Great Falls resident, founder and director of the Amadeus Orchestra, music teacher and cooking aficionado, died last week in Woodstock, Va. He was 53.
“Tim was the Amadeus Orchestra,” said Bill Chadwick, one of the musicians who had worked with Rowe for many years. “He was such a devoted musician and person. He brought so much to the community for the past 25 years. He was always trying to do something for someone.”
Chadwick said Rowe often would go out of his way to help support musical talent that especially impressed him.
“His life was dedicated to bringing pleasure through music to all who would listen,” he said. “I will miss his friendship and all the wonderful music he brought to Great Falls.”
After graduating from high school in Ridgefield, Conn., Rowe attended Middlebury College and earned a degree in music with a concentration in art history. He received his master’s degree in conducting from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1977 and worked as secretary/editor for the National Association of Schools of Music in Reston. In addition to his vital role in the Amadeus Orchestra, which debuted at the Kennedy Center in Washington in 2001, Rowe was a featured lecturer at the Smithsonian and several opera organizations throughout Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland.
ROWE WAS FOUND on a path used by hikers and campers near the Judge Rye Road Overlook in the Wolfgap area of Shenandoah County, near the West Virginia border last Tuesday, said Sheriff Timothy C. Carter. Initial autopsy results indicate that he died from a self-inflicted wound to the upper torso, but Carter said the investigation is ongoing.
“We did collect some knives and other items from the scene, along with a document that he had written, that are being process at this time,” Carter said. “There were no signs of foul play.”
“I’m in absolute shock,” said Paul Skevington, musical director at St. Luke’s church in McLean. Skevington and Rowe had recorded together at St. Luke’s and had worked together through the Amadeus Orchestra several times. “Tim was a great Renaissance man, knowledgeable in many areas, very outgoing and eager to talk and discuss things. He was a pleasure to be around.”
As news of Rowe’s unexpected death reached friends in Fairfax County, the feeling of shock resonated with those who knew him.
“Tim was a good friend,” said Glen Sjoblom. “We exchanged a lot of ideas and discussion at Gillette’s, where a group of us would meet over coffee.”
He described Rowe as a “super citizen in Great Falls in many ways. There was a high sense of quality in the music he performed, and he tried to bring that to the people here. I really haven’t come to grips with it yet,” he said.
Candace Bovey had worked with Rowe with the Great Falls Friends for several years and remembers his eagerness to volunteer whenever asked.
“He helped in every single project, always willing to get involved and help anyone who needed it,” she said.
THE SATURDAY BEFORE he died, Rowe helped a friend set up an art exhibit at the Great Falls Library and enjoyed himself immensely, she said. “He had so much going on all the time, he was always taking care of things.”
During last year’s Great Falls Day, one of the grills had broken while Rowe was in charge of cooking hot dogs. “He ran home and brought his own grill back for us to use,” Bovey said.
“He’s really going to be missed.”
The Amadeus Orchestra often played at the St. Francis Episcopal Church in Great Falls, which is how Rowe met Rev. Penelope Bridges.
“He was an extraordinarily gifted musician and an excellent teacher,” she said. “He had a gift for drawing in more dimensions when he taught a piece of music: He’d talk about the history of the time, what people’s lives were like, the art and culture of the period, not just the music itself. Tim was well-known and well-loved by people of all ages.”
Although he was not a parishioner at St. Francis, Bridges said he was “regarded as a member of our community here.”
As the middle of five children, Rowe was a protective and supportive older brother, said his youngest sister, Ellen Rowe.
“Even at a young age, he did not suffer fools gladly, and as a younger sister I often found myself in the fool category,” she said with a laugh.
Always an avid hiker, outdoorsman and adventurer, Rowe was quick to venture off the marked trail to seek out what he might be missing.
“One of these little forays led him to the top of a little waterfall and he slid over it and into the pool below,” she said. “He was fine, but that was typical of him.”
She remembers her big brother as “brilliant,” always curious and wanting to learn more about anything and everything in which he had interest.
“Frequently for special occasions or birthday, Tim would write these long, involved, funny poems that everyone loved,” she said. “It’s hard to think of anything he didn’t do well.”
Now in her home in Ann Arbor, MI, Ellen Rowe said the outpouring of support and love, along with shock and grief, that has been shared with the family has been incredible.
“All of our family is so grateful for the wonderful friends he had in Great Falls. It’s very touching to know how much people loved him,” she said.
Chadwick said the Amadeus Orchestra concert scheduled for this Sunday at 4 p.m. at St. Francis will go on as planned and will be dedicated to Rowe’s memory.
“This is not a memorial service by any means,” Chadwick said. “We are playing this concert for Tim.”
A memorial service will be held at St. Francis on Saturday, March 5, at 4 p.m.
Rowe is survived by two sisters, Judy Rowe Michaels of Hillsborough, N.J., and Ellen Rowe of Ann Arbor, Mich., and two brothers, Randy Rowe of South Egremont, Mass., and Chris Rowe of Concord, Mass. Funeral services will be held near his family’s home in Maine, and the family requests that donations be made in Rowe’s name to the Kezar Lake Watershed Association, P.O. Box 88, Lovell, ME 04051.