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Florence Saltarelli

Obituary for Florence Saltarelli

July 21, 1927 - July 2, 2019
San Antonio, Texas | Age 91


Florence Saltarelli was a beloved daughter, cherished wife, devoted mother, good friend, inspirational teacher, and tremendous musician.

She enjoyed storytelling and this obituary shares some of her favorite stories--there is history in each one.

She was born Florence Joyce Marini in Houston, Texas in the summer of 1927, and grew up in the time of the great economic depression in America. She watched her parents Charles and Ella Marini demonstrate the values of hard work, resourcefulness in the face of difficult times, and kind-hearted generosity. She recalled watching them look at their bills and scratch their heads, wondering how they could make ends meet.
Somehow they always found a way to take care of family and also friends. Florence learned these lessons well and lived this resourcefulness and generosity throughout her life.

Her love of music and extraordinary teaching ability emerged early in life. As a young girl of 13 years her violin teacher went on an extended European vacation and asked her--his most accomplished young protégé--to teach his other students.

With a growing passion for music, she continued her training and one day went to the world renown violinist, Nathan Milstein, for his input on her musical abilities. He allowed her to play a bit for him, impressed by what he heard. He proclaimed that what she needed was a better instrument. And he opened his own violin case and handed her his multi-million dollar Stradivarius violin to play. He approved and encouraged her performance, then he excused himself for an appointment, leaving her alone with the Stradivarius. She was awed and inspired by his trust in her. He returned an hour later to magnificent, dulcet tones and a young violinist entranced in the beautiful sound. Florence was changed forever by the experience. She knew she wanted to make music her whole life.

At 17 she met a very special young musician, Domenick Saltarelli, who was performing with the famous Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, who toured through Houston. Their love grew and 4 years later they were happily wed in 1948. They began their newlywed life living in New Orleans' French Quarter, an ideal place for young love and Dom's new job with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra.

A few years later, a job offer to Domenick to become the principal violist with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra brought the couple to the Alamo city, home of the San Fernando Cathedral, which would become a venue for many of Dom and Flo's musical performances over the years. Their focus on family grew and they lovingly welcomed three children into their lives: Carl, Rosella and Michael.

Florence and Domenick worked several jobs to support their family, doing whatever it took to pay private school tuitions and later, college expenses. They were proud that all three of their children earned advanced university degrees. This special couple shared the same passion for music, the same joy in gardening and cooking, and the same vision and love of God.

One day in about 1968, an eye doctor examined Domenick and gave Florence the terrifying news that her husband was going blind with cataracts and would soon be unable to work as a musician, incapable of reading music. The doctor advised her to go back to college and get her diploma because she would need to become the breadwinner of the family. Florence dutifully did just that. She wanted to make sure she could take care of her husband and children and provide for them. She took her education seriously and excelled in her classes. And even when Domenick successfully had one of the early types of cataract surgeries (in days long before laser surgeries and lens implants), Florence completed her Batchelor's degree at Our Lady of the Lake University. She would go on to earn her Master's degree in Music Education at Trinity University, with an outstanding violin recital including the lively Lalo Symphonie Espagnole to thundering applause.

She loved performing but was committed to caring for her young family. So instead of working in a symphony orchestra, she played for the sheer joy of making music at home. She loved playing Bach Partitas and Violin Concertos. She delighted in playing Paganinni. And for fun, she enjoyed classical chamber music and quartets weekly with Dom and friends from the orchestra. Their house was filled with music and their children followed suit, each developing their own musical skills. Florence and Domenick were so proud when young Michael auditioned along with 500 youngsters for 2 spaces in the prestigious San Antonio Boys Choir--and he was selected as first soprano. The proud parents were so impressed with his musical memory and encouraged his gift with violin, piano, and guitar lessons. Likewise Florence's daughter and other son developed their love of music through piano, organ, guitar, and voice. With Dom and Flo for parents, it was destiny that the children would be blessed with some genes of their musical talent.

When Florence thought she needed to become the breadwinner of the family, she took a job teaching in local schools. Her innate teaching skills were superb and her students soared to success. She was a conscientious educator and attended many professional conferences, seeking to learn new ways to help her students advance quickly. Her musical wisdom was a boon to her students, many awarded with top marks in competitions such as the UIL (University Interscholastic League) events. She was such an excellent instructor that at one point, fully 20% of the Texas All-State Orchestra--the top students in the huge state of Texas--were her students! And she was indeed very proud of them.

In her magnificent 33-year career as a professional teacher, she taught at Edgewood Independent School District, San Antonio ISD, Northeast ISD, and Our Lady of the Lake University. She was so very proud of her students who went on to careers in music, whether in jazz performance, symphony orchestras, our nation's finest military orchestras, performing with the Saltarelli String Orchestra, or following in her footsteps as a music teacher. If this is you and you are reading or hearing this, please know that you brought Mrs. Saltarelli great joy!

She had perfect pitch and a rare gift for discerning sound. She could listen to any violin recording on the radio and name the composer, the piece, and the performer. Her ear for music was extremely perceptive. Once, after a concert by famed violinist Fredell Lack, she told the performer that her instrument sounded so much like the violin of another famous performer, Zino Francescatti. Another concertgoer disagreed and said the performers sounded different. Flo said, "Not their playing, not their styles. The instruments. The violins' voices are so similar." Fredell replied, "It's interesting that you should notice. These two violins were both made by Antonio Stradivarius in 1727. They were probably cut from the same piece of wood!" Flo's musical genius was appreciated by many illustrious performers whom she called friends, including Nathan Milstein, Yehudi Menhuin, Ruggiero Ricci, Henryk Szering, the Romeros, Gilberto Puente and more.

Florence enjoyed her association with several groups, including the Tuesday Musical Club, Altrusa Club, and the Sons of Italy. She was proud of her Italian heritage and traveled to Italy several times.

Flo traveled with gusto, whether across the USA, Mexico, Europe or Asia. She loved the adventure and discovery. In Russia, at the national cemetery, she impressed locals when she wept openly at the graves of the famous composers Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, so grateful for their magnificent gifts of music to the world. Cruises were a favorite mode of travel. Whether in the Caribbean Sea, the Yangtze River of China, or the Rhine River in Europe, she relished seeing the world in style with her loving family. She also loved seeing the great art of the world in museums such as the Louvre in Paris and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

Florence enjoyed performing with the Trinity University Community Orchestra, founded by Domenick in the early 1960s. At first she played violin but changed to viola at Domenick's requests. The orchestra needed more violists and Florence, a consummate musician, made the transition easily. She graced many audiences with virtuoso performances of viola solos in pieces such as Afternoon of a Fawn, Meditation from Thais, and Intermezzo. Her conductor-
husband beamed with pride at Florence's impeccable performances.

Through the years this orchestra changed names and venues and the Saltarelli name became synonymous with beautiful classical music. Most recently, it took on the name Saltarelli String Orchestra to honor its founder, Domenick. When he became critically ill, Florence retired from teaching to lovingly care for him. When he passed away, Florence was devastated by the loss of her husband of almost 50 years. The orchestra members came to her with the message: "We took a vote and we all want the orchestra to continue. And we want you to conduct us."

Florence had conducted orchestras in the schools for many years but she never considered herself a conductor. "I'm a teacher," she would humbly say. But at their request she took up the baton, conducting the Saltarelli String Orchestra for more than 17 years. Making beautiful music with others for people to enjoy filled her life with purpose. In 2013, the Mayor of San Antonio and the Governor of the State of Texas each recognized Florence for her excellent community service and acknowledged the orchestra as the oldest community orchestra in the state. She conducted through the years as her eyesight grew too dim to read music, recalling entire pieces from her vast musical memory. And finally, when it became too difficult for her to climb to the podium, she handed the baton to the next generation of conductors.

Only a few people knew she had a beautiful singing voice. She impressed more than one karaoke audience and often enjoyed singing favorite jazz standards with live accompaniment at clubs on the San Antonio Riverwalk. Her latter years were spent enjoying live music at venues around town with family and friends. Music continued to be her great joy throughout her life.

Florence passed away peacefully in her home on Tuesday, July 2nd in San Antonio, Texas, attended by loving family. She is eternally with God.

Florence is survived by her sister Melba; her children Rosella and Michael; her grandchildren Lauren, Johnathan, Nicholas, Rachel and Danielle; and her great grandchildren Tiani, Lagi, Pele, Sosefina, Masina, Vivica, and Keoni. Florence's legacy of love, laughter and beautiful music will echo for generations to come.

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In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to one of her favorite charities:

• "Education for Life" at

• "Go Seva" at

• The Animal Defense League of Texas at

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Porter Loring Mortuary

1101 McCullough Avenue
San Antonio, TX 78212
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