Suzanne Bloch was the daughter of composer Ernest Bloch. Born in Geneva, Suzanne Bloch originally desired to follow her father into the field of music composition, but her father proved so stressed out at the idea that she decided to pursue a different course of action. On a visit to the household of family friend Albert Einstein in 1928 she heard Einstein's stepdaughter Margot play the Renaissance lute and decided to learn it. In the years before her family finally settled in the United States, Bloch investigated many old manuscripts and early prints in European libraries and learned the then-forgotten art of reading lute tablature.
Starting in the late '30s, Suzanne Bloch began to present concerts of Renaissance lute music in the United States, and at the time she was the only expert lute player on the American scene; she would remain so for many years. Bloch would perform in Elizabethan dress on the lute, then singing lute songs and then move over to the virginal to play a set of keyboard pieces. Bloch's show concluded with Bloch leading a small consort of recorders, which sometimes included her husband, Paul Smith, then head of the mathematics department at Columbia University. Some critics dismissed her as an eccentric and a kook -- the Spanish guitar virtuoso Andrés Segovia once told Bloch her instrument of choice had "too many strings." Nevertheless, Bloch lived well into the era to witness her repertoire, instruments, and working methods widely adopted by others in the "Early Music Movement" beginning in the 1960s.
Suzanne Bloch made recordings in the late '40s, the earliest part of LP era. These were widely distributed on cheap album labels and probably had some impact on the folk revival of the 1950s. From 1974 to 1977, Bloch was president of the American Lute Society, and she taught at the Juilliard School from the 1940s until not long before her death in 2002. Bloch was also a renowned expert on the music of her father and contributed program and liner notes to many performances and recordings of music by Ernest Bloch.