Before digital equipment eased the process of recording music, Norman Greenspan of Syosset lugged hefty reel-to-reel tape machines to classical music concerts around Long Island, his sons said.
That's why Greenspan, who died Wednesday, was remembered fondly this week by the artists whose music he preserved and archived for the past several decades.
"He was a very, very good friend to all the chamber ensembles on Long Island for many years," said clarinetist Naomi Drucker of Massapequa, a director of the American Chamber Ensemble. "Norman had a very fine ear for music. He was a music lover. . . . He could hear whether something was balanced, where microphones were needed."
Greenspan, an engineer who worked for aerospace firms such as Grumman, Sperry and Republic Aviation, died at Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Woodbury. He was 89.
An audiophile since childhood, Greenspan was a self-taught recording engineer who moved from reel-to-reels to cassettes to digital recorders.
Greenspan's recordings were of "very high quality" and he "kept up with technology as it changed continually," said Herbert Deutsch of Massapequa Park, a professor of music at Hofstra University and president of the Long Island Composers Alliance, of which Greenspan was an honorary member.
Born in Brooklyn, Greenspan worked during World War II on the Manhattan Project, which developed the first atomic bomb, said his son, Ron of Virginia Beach, Va.
His wife, teacher Fay Slavin Greenspan, died in 1989.
Recording music was "a cottage business" for Greenspan, his son said. Greenspan never was employed by a record company, but he taped concerts and made demos, or demonstration records, for local artists.
"He would just drive around with stuff in the truck," Ron Greenspan said. "It was a one-man show."
In addition to his son, Ron; Greenspan is survived by another son, Alex of Rockville Centre; and four grandchildren.
Musicians will be invited to play at a memorial service for Greenspan, at 11 a.m. Sunday at Beney Funeral Home in Syosset. "We'll be playing some of his favorite music, which is [Gustav] Mahler," Alex Greenspan said.
Burial will follow at Mount Golda Cemetery in Huntington Station.