News from around the world

January 2020 Obituaries

Our summary of those the
classical music world lost last month


Since this article was published, we've become aware of the death of Lithuanian composer Vidmantas Bartulis, who received the Lithuanian National Prize in 1998, and who died on 30 January 2020, aged sixty-five.

We mark the passing of German conductor Othmar Mága, who made recordings of rarely played concertos for horn and double bass, on 29 January 2020, aged ninety. Born in Brno to German-Hungarian parents, he studied conducting with Paul van Kempen, Ferdinand Leitner and Sergiu Celibidache. Mága's conducting appointments included the Odense Symphony Orchestra and the KBS Symphony Orchestra in Korea.

Othmar Mága (1929-2020). Photo © 2006 Jorge Mága
Othmar Mága (1929-2020). Photo © 2006 Jorge Mága

Austrian bass-baritone and actor Franz Mazura, who died in Mannheim on 23 January, aged ninety-five, performed at Bayreuth for a quarter of a century, and at New York Metropolitan Opera for a decade and a half. Usually he played villains and strange characters. Two of the recordings he appeared on won Grammy Awards.

Franz Mazura (1924-2020)
Franz Mazura (1924-2020)

American mezzo Nedda Casei has also died very recently, on 20 January 2020, aged eighty-seven. She made her debut in 1960 at La Monnaie in Brussels, and also appeared at La Scala Milan the same year. She appeared at major opera houses in North America and Europe, and was one of New York Metropolitan Opera's leading mezzos for over two decades. She worked with many conductors including Leopold Stokowski, Leonard Bernstein, Heinz Wallberg, Nello Santi and Hans Swarowsky. For ten years she was president of the American Guild of Musical Artists.

Nedda Casei (1932-2020)
Nedda Casei (1932-2020)

We also mark the passing of Canadian composer and teacher John Burke, who died on 18 January in Marmura, Ontario, aged sixty-eight, Australian horn player and conductor Barry Tuckwell (16 January, aged eighty-eight), Czech-born American ethnomusicologist and musicologist Bruno Nettl (14 January, aged eighty-nine), French clarinettist Guy Deplus (14 January, aged ninety-five), Paraguayan violinist and child prodigy Ana Lucrecia Taglioretti (7 January in Asunción, aged twenty-four), American violinist, concertmaster and teacher of Soviet descent, Emanuel Borok (4 January, aged seventy-five), American keyboard player Joan Benson, who specialised in the clavichord and fortepiano (1 January, aged ninety-four), and Dutch violinist and conductor Jaap Schröder (1 January, aged ninety-four).

Finally, we mark, with some considerable regret, the passing of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union on 31 January, following a long struggle. This is bad news for almost everyone, but in particular for many British musicians wanting to work in mainland Europe, and for European musicians scheduled to perform in the UK.

Brexit is a result of second-rate, self-serving politicians persuading people who had been forgotten, and let down by these very same politicians, that it was not they, but the EU that was to blame for their troubles.

This is a sad day for people who fought tirelessly for European integration, and for Europe-wide policies that made lives better for us, and for millions of Europeans.

It is a sad day for those who fought so hard to stop the retreat of Great Britain towards Little England.

And sad for those who fought to preserve a tolerant society, free of hate, racism and bigotry.
- Nick Prag,

The UK tonight will leave the most successful experiment in multi-national collaboration the world has ever seen. - The New Statesman

Posted 1 February 2020 and updated 2 February 2020 by Keith Bramich



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