Here are brief details of some of the people lost to the classical music world during May 2020, most recently deceased first. May they rest in peace. We'll update this page as necessary, throughout the month.
Uruguayan composer, conductor and teacher Federico García Vigil died on 27 May, aged seventy-nine. Born in Montevideo on 5 January 1941, he showed musical talent at an early age and studied at the Guillermo Kolischer Conservatory. From 1985 until 1990 he was the principal conductor of the Montevideo Municipal Symphony Orchestra and from 1991 until 1994 he conducted the Colombian Symphony Orchestra. He was director of the Montevideo Philharmonic Orchestra from 1993 until 2008. He conducted many orchestras in Latin America, and several in Europe and in the USA. He also taught conducting in Montevideo at the University and at the Municipal School of Music.
English baritone Neil Howlett passed away on 21 May, aged eighty-five. Born in Mitcham on 24 July 1934, he studied at St Paul's Cathedral School in London, King's College Cambridge and Stuttgart's Hochschule für Musik. Whilst studying at Cambridge, in 1957, he won the Kathleen Ferrier Award. He made his debut in 1964 in the first performance of Britten's Curlew River. He was principal baritone at English National Opera for seventeen years, but also sang at Teatro Colón and Covent Garden. He created roles in works by Gordon Crosse and David Blake, made a series of recordings and was a professor at the Guildhall School of Music. After retiring from full-time performing, he became Head of Vocal Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music.
English choral conductor and teacher John Poole passed away in Haute-Vienne, France on 18 May 2020, aged eighty-six.
Italian composer, conductor, double bass player and pianist Ezio Bosso died in Bologna on 15 May, aged forty-eight, following a long struggle with a neurodegenerative syndrome. Born in Turin on 13 September 1971, he could read and play music at under four years old. At fourteen he was a rhythm-and-blues musician, but then switched to classical music, playing double bass in the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and elsewhere. He later studied composition and conducting at the Vienna Music Academy. He wrote film scores and ballet, orchestral and chamber music. One of his albums was very popular in Italy, and his piano music has been compared with scores by Philip Glass.
Swedish soprano and actress Berith Bohm died in Stockholm on 14 May, aged eighty-seven. Born Maria Kristina Bohm in Stockholm on 23 August 1932, she won a Swedish talent show in her teens. She sang operetta at the Vienna Volksoper, and appeared in shows such as South Pacific, Guys and Dolls and Emmerich Kálmán's The Gipsy Princess at the Oscarsteatern in Stockholm, and in the Swedish musical Elvira Madigan in Malmö.
Canadian-born American cellist Lorne Munroe died on 4 May, aged ninety-five. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 24 November 1924, he started learning cello at three years old, using a viola with a leg attached, winning the Winnipeg Music Competition when he was ten. Australian composer Arthur Benjamin sponsored him to study at the Royal College of Music in London (1937-9), and he continued his studies at the Curtis Institute with Orlando Cole and Gregor Piatigorsky. He won the 1949 Naumburg award, played in the Cleveland Orchestra and was principal cello with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra and then the Philadelphia Orchestra. Leonard Bernstein invited him to become the New York Philharmonic Orchestra's principal cellist. He also had teaching positions at Juilliard and at the Philadelphia Musical Academy.
American mezzo Rosalind Elias passed away on 3 May, aged ninety. Born in Lowell, Massachusetts on 13 March 1930 into an American-Lebanese family, she studied at the New England Conservatory, then with Luigi Ricci and Nazzareno De Angelis at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome and at Tanglewood. She began singing at New York Metropolitan Opera in 1954, interpreting fifty-four roles there, including creating two roles in operas by Samuel Barber - Erica in Vanessa and Charmian in Antony and Cleopatra. She also performed overseas - at Scottish Opera, Vienna State Opera and Glyndebourne - and made many recordings. Later in her career, in addition to continuing to sing, she directed operas, including Carmen for San Diego Opera.
British ballet dancer and teacher Anne Heaton died on 1 May, aged eighty-nine. She was born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and studied in Birmingham (1937-43) and then with Sadlers Wells Ballet School, making her debut with Sadler's Wells Opera in 1945. From 1946-48) she performed with Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet, and from 1949 until 1959 she danced with Sadler's Wells Ballet at Covent Garden, becoming a principal. A foot injury forced her to resign in 1959, and she appeared as an occasional guest until 1962. Later she staged ballets, including Giselle for Iranian National Ballet, she taught at the Arts Educational School and (with her husband John Field) was co-director of the British Ballet Organisation.
Posted 6 May 2020 by Keith Bramich