The death of a 43-year-old musician who fell 14 stories from his Northwest Washington apartment building this month has been ruled a homicide, officials said yesterday.

Richard Galla, a pianist for the Washington School of Ballet, fell from the balcony of his apartment in the 4200 block of Cathedral Avenue NW, police said. The fall took place at 4 a.m. May 2.

No arrests have been made, and police said that detectives from the violent crimes unit were pursuing the case. They declined to release more details of the investigation.

The medical examiner's office, which ruled the death a homicide on Friday, issued a statement yesterday saying that Galla died from "multiple blunt impact injuries."

Friends and colleagues described Galla as a friendly man who loved playing the piano and helping children.

"He was a very devoted and respected employee," said Patricia Berrend, associate director of the Washington School of Ballet in Northwest Washington. "The kids liked him. His colleagues liked him."

Galla went to work at the school 16 years ago and was one of its two senior pianists, playing for both the school's professional members and younger pupils, Berrend said. The school has about 400 students, ranging in age from 6 to adulthood.

Galla particularly enjoyed working with children because he liked "watching them grow," Berrend said.

According to the school's Web site, Galla received a master's degree in music from the University of California in 1986. He also played over the years for the American Ballet Theater and the Dance Theater of Harlem, both in New York.

A year and a half ago, Galla began performing as an accompanist for the Lesbian & Gay Chorus of Washington, said Paul Heins, the group's music director.

Known as a shy and quiet man, Galla rarely grew discouraged, Heins said, adding, "When I was feeling kind of gloomy, he was there to shine a light."

Galla demonstrated incredible range as a pianist, colleagues said, and mastered the delicate art of keeping pace with dancers and singers.

"That is something you have to learn," Berrend said.