Pianist still playing at age 106
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Rancho Bernardan Marie Cwiek has been playing the piano for a century.
Cwiek, who celebrated her 106th birthday on Tuesday, started playing the piano at age 6 and continues to entertain others with her musical ability.
Her lifelong love of classical music was influenced by her family’s musical background. Both parents were musicians, a grandfather was an Italian music director and of her six siblings, a sister became an opera singer and brother a musician. As for Cwiek, her preference is for works by Chopin, she said.
The centenarian was born and raised in New York City and worked as a fur coat sales manager at Martin’s in Brooklyn. She came to California in 1949 and has lived at Villa Rancho Bernardo for the last six years.
Cwiek and her late husband, Andrew, were married for 66 years. Following retirement, they took a 13-month fishing trip during which they towed a small trailer from their vehicle, she said.
“Just be happy and good to each other,” Cwiek said about marriage. “My secret was I loved my husband so dearly. I never placed him in a home. I kept him home and took care of him until he died.”
Their daughter, Paula, died two years ago at age 77 from leukemia.
“Don’t ask me why I’m here,” Cwiek said about her longevity. “I guess only the Lord knows why I am here.”
Cwiek said she did not smoke or drink alcohol, is “very fussy about food and I hate grease.” Her preference is for natural Italian food, she does not wear dentures and is only missing two of her teeth. She is also able to memorize all her bingo card numbers.
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