Non-profit organization Blue Bear School of Music was founded as “Blue Bear Waltzes School of Genuine Music” in the summer of 1971 by a rock band called “Wolfgang & Strauss” – “Wolfgang” was a dog, and “Strauss,” two brothers in the band. Before moving to San Francisco to make their fame and fortune (and to found a music school), they lived in Northern California on the Bear River. When naming the school, the brothers Strauss whimsically recalled Johann Strauss’s “Blue Danube Waltz,” substituting the Bear River for the Danube, and the rest is history. For a period in the mid-’70s, when the founding members moved on, Blue Bear was run by a co-operative of teachers and students. In 1978 operations moved from the original storefront on Ocean Avenue to Fort Mason Center, where Blue Bear has thrived and evolved to its current state of more than 850 music-loving students per quarter. Blue Bear’s current Board of Trustees and Staff includes former “Wolfgang & Strauss” members Steve Savage (Board President) and Richard Strauss along with Electric Orchestra & Folk Chorus (and Blue Bear Association) member Bonnie Hayes. Day-to-day operations are under the direction of Dennis Criteser, a former student who has been associated with the school for 35+ years.
Blue Bear teachers and Association members circa 1972,
including the Hayeses, Savage, Snow and the brothers Strauss.