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January and February 2019 have been two months in which the classical music world has had to say farewell to many composers and performers. Below are details of some notable figures who passed away in January 2019, and tomorrow, we'll feature some February obituaries.
American baritone Sanford Sylvan, born New York City, 19 December 1953, studied with Phyllis Curtin. He received five Grammy nominations for his participation in recordings and took part in first recordings of works by John Adams, Philip Glass, Peter Maxwell Davies, John Harbison and Christopher Rouse.
British organist and composer Noel Rawsthorne, born 24 December 1929, studied in Italy with Fernando Germani and with Harold Dawber at the Royal Manchester College. He was organist of Liverpool Cathedral from 1955 until 1980, writing much original choral music, including his 1978 Festive Eucharist. His organ compositions and arrangements include an often-played Aria in F and the amusing Hornpipe Humoresque.
Austrian soprano and voice teacher Wilma Lipp, born Vienna, 26 April 1925, studied in Vienna and Milan, and performed with Vienna State Opera from 1945 until 1981, where she sang The Queen of Night about four hundred times, and then taught voice at the Mozarteum in Salzburg from 1982 until 1998.
French composer, organist, pianist, improviser and teacher Jean Guillou, born Angers, 18 April 1930, was organist at Saint Eustache in Paris from 1963 until 2015. He was known internationally as a composer of vocal and instrumental music based on the organ. He advised organ builders and held masterclasses in Zurich and Paris.
Polish opera director, conductor, producer and actor Ryszard Peryt, born at Zielona Góra in Western Poland on 9 March 1947, also wrote the libretto for Zygmunt Krause's opera Balthazar.
Italian composer, pianist and teacher Mario Bertoncini, a composition student of Goffredo Petrassi, was born in Rome on 27 September 1932. His Sei Pezza per orchestra won the 1962 Nicola d'Atri Prize, and his Quodlibet won the 1965 Gaudeamus International Composers Award and the Fondation européenne de la Culture prize. From 1970 until 1972 he was president of the Rome-based Gruppo di Improvvisazione di Nuova Consonanza. In 1974 he made open-air kinetic sound sculptures for the Berliner Festwochen.
German-Canadian composer, conductor and arts administrator Alfred Kunz, born Neudorf, Saskatchewan, 26 May 1929, studied in Toronto and was director of music at the University of Waterloo. He conducted various choirs and founded the Millennium Choir in 1985, remaining as its director until 2015. Many of his hundreds of compositions are for unaccompanied choir. He died in Kitchener, Ontario on 16 January 2019, aged eighty-nine.
Canadian composer, teacher and pianist Jean Chatillon, born Nicolet, Quebec, 13 September 1937, was at first self-taught, before turning to Conrad Letendre in Montreal for tuition. He founded the music section of the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières in 1969 and taught there until 1981. He was dedicated to the revival of tonal music, and with this aim, became a founding member of the Delian Society.
American musicologist Max Deen Larsen, born Richfield, Utah, 6 March 1943, studied literature and philosophy in the USA and Austria, and lived in Austria from 1973, where he was founder and director of the Franz Schubert Institute Baden. He taught at various schools and academies in Austria, Canada and the USA. He died in Baden by Vienna, Austria, on 12 January 2019, aged seventy-five.
American choreographer Andy de Groat, born Paterson, New Jersey, November 1947, was best known for his collaborations with experimental stage director and playwright Robert Wilson. De Groat helped to choreograph Einstein on the Beach at Festival d'Avignon in 1976. He created the Red Notes dance company in New York City in 1973, and moved it to France in 1982. He created the ballets Red Notes and Fan Dance, and applied his specialism of spinning to La Bayadère, Giselle and Nutcracker. He died in Montauban, France on 10 January 2019, aged seventy-one.
German bass-baritone and Wagner expert Theo Adam, born Dresden, 1 August 1926, spent his whole career as a member of Staatsoper Dresden, and he sang at the Bayreuth Festival from 1952 until 1980. He also appeared at New York Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden in London, the Salzburg Festival and Vienna State Opera. Three roles were created especially for him: the title roles of Paul Dessau's 1974 Einstein and Friedrich Cerha's 1981 Baal, and Prospero in Berio's 1984 Un re in ascolto. He was also a successful singer of Bach and Mendelssohn's Elijah in concert, and taught voice at Musikhochschule Dresden. He died in Dresden on 10 January 2919, aged ninety-two.
British composer John Joubert, born Cape Town, South Africa, 1927, studied at Cape Town's South African College of Music and at the Royal Academy of Music in London. His output of more than 160 works includes three symphonies, four concertos and seven operas. He lectured at the University of Hull, and later at the University of Birmingham, and became especially well-known in his home city of Birmingham, living to witness a concert performance of his opera Jane Eyre and recordings of many of his works.
American soprano Thais St Julien, born New Orleans, 11 June 1945, studied with Charles Paddock, Virginia MacWatters and Norma Newton. She was co-director of New Orleans Musica da Camera, specialising in music from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and she founded the group's female choral extension, Vox Feminae. She also co-hosted America's longest-running Early Music radio programme, Continuum, broadcast weekly since 1976. Thais St Julien died on 3 January 2019, aged seventy-three.
Catalan composer and pianist Joan Guinjoan, born Riudoms, 28 November 1931, studied in Barcelona and Paris, and abandoned his career as a pianist in the 1960s to devote his life to composition.
He received the Catalunyan Creu de Sant Jordi in 1999 and the Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts from the Spanish government in 2001.