Iconic Pittsburgh musician Joe Negri retires from Pitt | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

Iconic Pittsburgh musician Joe Negri retires from Pitt

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
1073302_web1_PTR-NEGRI-GUITAR
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune-Review
Jazz guitarist Joe Negri retires from 49 years of teaching music at the University of Pittsburgh. in Oakland.
1073302_web1_PTR-NEGRI-STUDENT
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune-Review
Jazz guitarist Joe Negri (right) retires from 49 years of teaching music at the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland. He shares a smile with former student John Maione in the univeristy’s music department at a celebration for Negri on Thursday.
1073302_web1_PTR-NEGRI-GIFT
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune-Review
Jazz guitarist Joe Negri (left) retires from 49 years of teaching music at the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland. He is showing a gift of book ends from the univeristy’s music department at a celebration for Negri on Thursday.
1073302_web1_PTR-NEGRI-PAULA
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune-Review
Jazz guitarist Joe Negri (left) retires from 49 years of teaching music at the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland He shares a laugh with Paula Riemer who works in the univeristy’s music department at a celebration for Negri on Thursday.
1073302_web1_PTR-NEGRI-STUDENTS
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune-Review
Jazz guitarist Joe Negri (left) retires from 49 years of teaching music at the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland. He shares some stories with former students in the univeristy’s music department at a celebration for Negri on Thursday.
1073302_web1_PTR-NEGRI-ROOM
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune-Review
Jazz guitarist Joe Negri retires from teaching music at the University of Pittsburgh. in Oakland. This was his room where he taught for 49 years.

Room 124 at University of Pittsburgh’s music building won’t have that familiar sound resonating from inside.

Pittsburgh jazz guitarist and legend Joe Negri retired after 49 years teaching students how to play not only songs, but how to live their lives. Pitt held a going-away party for him Thursday.

Negri, 92, who many know from his performances on WQED’s “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” as a handyman, was honored by former students, faculty and friends.

“This is the end of one chapter of my life,” Negri told the Tribune-Review. “I am enjoying life. I won’t miss playing, but I didn’t want to stop teaching, but it’s time. I want to keep writing books and songs and compositions.”

Negri grew up in Mt. Washington, and currently lives in Scott. His father bought him his first guitar at age 8. He hasn’t stopped playing since. He’s performed all over the world, including when he was in the Army’ Special Services Unit stationed overseas in Belgium and France.

Negri attempted to study music at Carnegie Mellon University, but was told jazz guitar wasn’t recognized. He said he believes Pitt was the first to offer jazz guitar. He was recently recognized with the Jazz Legacy Award by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

The late Fred Rogers called Negri to be the handyman on the children’s TV show. Negri told him he didn’t know how to fix anything.

“Fred told me not to worry because it was all make believe,” Negri said.

Ironically, Pitt’s music building was the site of the early “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” shows.

John Maione, who teaches music at Winchester Thurston School in Shadyside, was one of Negri’s first students. Maione said Negri is an incredible player, and outstanding and insightful teacher and a wonderful human being.

“I cannot imagine my life without you in it,” Maione told Negri. “Things you told me years ago still come out of my mouth. We all stand on your shoulders and the brilliance of your teaching. There’s nobody like you.”

Ryan Salisbury, who will graduate Sunday, said Negri is one of the reasons he came to Pitt.

“He can play anything and I loved learning from him,” Salisbury said. “It’s been an incredible experience.”

Negri, who said his favorite guitar is a Benedetto, has touched generations of people, said former Pitt music chair and current faculty member Deane Root. Students have benefited from knowing him and this truly is the end of an era because he was a link between how the music department was and how it is now in its modern form, Root said.

“Joe Negri radiates life as an art form,” said Root. “He crosses generations and he brings out the best in the musicians he plays with.”

Pitt music chair Mathew Rosenblum said he can’t imagine the department without Negri.

“He lights up the place,” Rosenblum said. “He is an accomplished actor, composer, and jazz legend. His dedication to teaching reaches across not only our campus but the city of Pittsburgh and beyond. Joe brought positive energy. That was the lesson. He not only taught music but was a role model for how to live your life.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.