Marvin Paymer, pianist, composer, musicologist and author who was an expert on the 18th century Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, died June 14 in San Diego of cancer, according to his son, actor David Paymer. He was 81.
A native of New York City, Marvin Paymer earned degrees at the University of Hartford, Queens College and City University of New York. He taught at City University of New York's York College and at Hunter College. In 1977, he co-founded and, until his retirement in 1993, served as associate director of the Pergolesi Research Center at City University of New York Graduate Center.
Managing editor of the 26-volume "The New Pergolesi Edition," Paymer also wrote "G.B. Pergolesi: A Thematic Catalog of the Opera Omnia" and "The Instrumental Music Attributed to G.B. Pergolesi: A Study in Authenticity" and co-authored "The Pergolesi Hand: A Calligraphic Study." Paymer authenticated 13 Pergolesi compositions among hundreds of fakes attributed to the posthumously famous composer, who died at the age of 26. Paymer said he used stylistic analysis in addition to such evidence as watermarks, ink, paper and documentation to determine whether a score was written by Pergolesi.
Paymer also wrote books about more recent music, including "Facts Behind the Songs" in 1993 and "Sentimental Journey" in 1999.
A musician in his own right, Paymer played in New York nightclubs and with Louis Armstrong in his youth. In recent years, he gave lecture recitals around San Diego and played piano at the Top of the Cove in La Jolla. Among his many awards were fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Besides his son, Paymer is survived by his wife, Edythe; another son, Jon Lach; a daughter, Madeleine Kessner; and seven grandchildren.
Memorial donations in his name may be made to the Wellness Community-West Los Angeles, 2716 Ocean Park Blvd., Suite 1040, Santa Monica, CA 90405.