Remembering Peg Longstreth
She had strong opinions, both on and off the page.
A classically trained pianist, she knew what to listen for when reviewing concerts. And she spent hours researching each concert’s selections and composers beforehand.
She and her late husband, Joseph Longstreth, wrote classical music reviews for the Naples Daily News. When Joseph, her soulmate, died in 2003, she continued, writing the reviews by herself.
I met them both in 2001, when they opened the gallery Longstreth Goldberg Art on Taylor Road in North Naples. A large, contemporary gallery, it seemed as if it belonged more in a small city than in Naples.
When I started writing for Florida Weekly, I told my editors about Peg, and she began writing reviews and features for us.
According to a feature story in Fort Myers magazine by Phil Jason (who writes book reviews for Florida Weekly), Peg, an Indiana native, worked in social work and health care administration for 15 years, helping sexually abused and battered kids. She performed in a dance band and as a duo piano partner. In 1980, she became a private art dealer.
Peg was a co-worker who became a friend. I felt we complemented each other well, writing about the arts; we were each strong in areas where the other lacked expertise. I admired her knowledge about classical music, pops and opera.
We had great discussions about art and music — and cats.
Peg was a great lover of cats, and shared her home with her many “furry children.” She also fed numerous outdoor cats who knew her as a reliable human with a kind heart.
Like many in the arts community, I was shocked by her death at age 73.
We’d just had dinner a few weeks ago, in January.
She looked great. Despite having sold her gallery in November, she had a great zest.
Ironically, the day I learned of her death, I’d just adopted a cat at the humane society. I was going to call and tell her about it. I knew she’d be happy about the news.
Her sudden death, and the lack of a funeral or memorial service, have left us all feeling dismayed and somewhat lost.
To celebrate her life, Peg would most likely want us to attend a concert and listen to good music, support the arts (especially young musicians and artists) and, if possible, open our homes and adopt a cat. Or two. Or more.
Here’s what a few other people in the local arts community had to say about Peg:
Francis Wada, musical director
The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra I’ve been having a tough time since I heard the sad news about Peg. She wasn’t just a reviewer; she had a heart for what we did, how we did it and how the community rose to love our symphony.
She was more than just a typical concert reviewer who talks about technical musical aspects. She always pictured how the audience responded. And she loved our enthusiastic audience here. She highlighted that part — how the audience responded to the music we presented.
I feel we have lost a good friend of the symphony as well as a good friend to me as a person. I was so fortunate… we visited her beautiful gallery. I’ll never forget that. She promoted creativeness… few people are doing that.
I’m extremely saddened. I talked to her just a few days before our Mantovani concert; she wanted some more details about it. She wrote an incredible review, probably the finest review I’ve ever received in my life. She spoke so highly of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.
What a loss.
So few people can do what she did. It’s hard to find someone with a classical music background like that. I’m forever grateful that we had her.
We lost a dear friend.
(When she wrote), she captured the total experience of listening to live music. Other critiques can be dry. But her experience brought joy.
Myra Janco Daniels, founder, former CEO and president
The Philharmonic Center for the Arts Peg was a Renaissance woman who knew how to mix the visual and the performing arts together. I don’t know any other woman who had a dabbling in all these different areas.
She was not afraid to dabble. She spoke with a strong voice and she was not bendable.
And she never stopped learning.
Jeannette Boucher, president
The Naples Music Club I began to get to know Peg recently. She was an amazing woman. She had so many interests and pursuits.
I saw her at Thanksgiving, and she wanted to know if I knew any recorder players. She said she’d like to start a group of recorder players. She said she never played it. She wanted to join a group in town, or, if there wasn’t one, she wanted to start one. She was very enthusiastic about it.
Even being recently retired, basically, her mind never stopped going. She loved new things and she loved music.
She was always full of new ideas and doing things she’d never done before.
Phil Jason, president
The Naples Press Club What I admired about Peg Longstreth was her versatility, her commitment to a whole range of the arts, as a practitioner, an educator and a critic. She took chances in all of these areas, and some of those chances did not win her friends. I think her heart was always in the right place. And that’s something.
She had a great enthusiasm for bringing artistic talent to the public.
Myra Williams, treasurer
The Naples Music Club Peg was a remarkable woman. Her talents were so varied. She was a musician; she performed and also reviewed music, and she still practiced the piano every day. She was a gallery owner, respected by her artists for her sense of fine art.
When she wanted to become an author and had trouble getting a publisher for her book, “A Bear Called Charlie,” she wound up self-publishing it.
She was going to write a sequel. She said she had to listen to him to find out what to write.
Peg was simply a woman who had intelligence and a great exuberance about life. One of the things most special about her was her remarkable resilience. You just couldn’t put her down.
She was a vital part of this community, giving and supportive. ¦