Romel Joseph

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.[1][2]

Joseph was born in Gros Mornes, Haiti, the middle of five kids.[3][4] He was raised by nuns at the St. Vincent School for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.[4][5] 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.[2][5][6][7] He also studied with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Berkshire Music Center.[4][5]

Joseph worked as the music director at the St. Vincent’s School for Handicapped Children where he had attended as a child.[7] He founded The New Victorian School in Port-au-Prince in 1991.[1] 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.[2][8] 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.[1][6]

When the quake struck, Joseph was on the third floor of The New Victorian School and became buried beneath the rubble for 18 hours.[1][6] He claimed to have kept himself alive by mentally reciting every major piece of classical music he had performed until rescuers found him.[1] 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.[2][9][10] Joseph’s second wife, Myslie, and their unborn child did not survive the quake.[1][3]

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.[11] He died on October 6, 2015, after suffering a stroke.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Wife, School Lost In Quake, Violinist Vows To Rebuild". Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  2. ^ a b c d Couric, Katie (2010-01-21). "Haiti Earthquake: Stories of Survivors". CBS News. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  3. ^ a b "Violinist Romel Joseph, survivor of Haiti earthquake, dies at 56". Le Flambeau Foundation. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  4. ^ a b c Sallah, Michael (2010-01-21). "Haitian virtuoso lost wife, school, but vows to rebuild". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  5. ^ a b c Matchan, Linda (1982-08-18). "From Haiti to Tanglewood via his violin". The Boston Globe: 33, 39.
  6. ^ a b c "Haiti Quake Crushes Violinist's Hand, But Not His Spirit". 2011-01-15. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  7. ^ a b "Human Rights Day 2012 - Events in New York and Geneva". United Nations Human Rights - Office of the High Commissioner. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  8. ^ "Walenstein Musical Organization, Inc". Walenstein Musical Organization. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  9. ^ Hori, Shannon (2013-01-11). "Blind Survivor Of Haiti Quake Gives Violin Performance At JMH". CBS 4 Miami. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  10. ^ "Former Jackson patient who survived 2010 Haiti earthquake returns to hospital for musical performance". Jackson Health System. 2013-01-10. Retrieved 2020-10-05.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Cohen, Howard (2015-10-07). "Violinist Romel Joseph, survivor of Haiti earthquake, dies at 56". Miami Herald.