Romel Joseph (May 19, 1959 - October 6, 2015) was a Haitian professional violinist best known as the founder of The New Victorian School, a private school for grade-school children located in Turgeau, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Joseph was born in Gros Mornes, Haiti, the middle of five kids. He was raised by nuns at the St. Vincent School for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Born with congenital cataracts, a condition that left him with less than 10% vision even after corrective surgery in 1980, Joseph earned a Fulbright scholarship despite his handicap and later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in 1982 and a Master of Arts in violin performance from Juilliard School of Music. He also studied with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Berkshire Music Center.
Joseph worked as the music director at the St. Vincent’s School for Handicapped Children where he had attended as a child. He founded The New Victorian School in Port-au-Prince in 1991. In 1996, he founded and served as executive director of the Walenstein Musical Organization, a non-profit that provides music education, training, and performance opportunities to children in South Florida. Joseph rebuilt The New Victorian School after it was destroyed by a fire in 2000, and again ten years later after it was destroyed on January 12, 2010, during the 2010 Haitian earthquake.
When the quake struck, Joseph was on the third floor of The New Victorian School and became buried beneath the rubble for 18 hours. He claimed to have kept himself alive by mentally reciting every major piece of classical music he had performed until rescuers found him. He was flown to Miami, Florida, where he was treated for three months and underwent multiple surgeries for a crushed arm and two crushed legs at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Joseph’s second wife, Myslie, and their unborn child did not survive the quake.
Based on his experience surviving the earthquake, Joseph wrote The Miracle of Music: Experience How Romel Joseph Has Used His Musical Knowledge and Talent to Overcome Some of His Most Challenging Life Obstacles. He died on October 6, 2015, after suffering a stroke.
- "Wife, School Lost In Quake, Violinist Vows To Rebuild". NPR.org. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
- Couric, Katie (2010-01-21). "Haiti Earthquake: Stories of Survivors". CBS News. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
- "Violinist Romel Joseph, survivor of Haiti earthquake, dies at 56". Le Flambeau Foundation. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
- Sallah, Michael (2010-01-21). "Haitian virtuoso lost wife, school, but vows to rebuild". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
- Matchan, Linda (1982-08-18). "From Haiti to Tanglewood via his violin". The Boston Globe: 33, 39.
- "Haiti Quake Crushes Violinist's Hand, But Not His Spirit". NPR.org. 2011-01-15. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
- "Human Rights Day 2012 - Events in New York and Geneva". United Nations Human Rights - Office of the High Commissioner. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
- "Walenstein Musical Organization, Inc". Walenstein Musical Organization. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
- Hori, Shannon (2013-01-11). "Blind Survivor Of Haiti Quake Gives Violin Performance At JMH". CBS 4 Miami. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
- "Former Jackson patient who survived 2010 Haiti earthquake returns to hospital for musical performance". Jackson Health System. 2013-01-10. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
- Joseph, Romel (23 December 2010). The Miracle of Music: Experience How Romel Joseph Has Used His Musical Knowledge and Talent to Overcome Some of His Most Challenging Life Obstacle. ISBN 978-0976984702.
- Cohen, Howard (2015-10-07). "Violinist Romel Joseph, survivor of Haiti earthquake, dies at 56". Miami Herald.