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April 2020 Obituaries

Our summary of those the
classical music world lost last month


Here are brief details of the many people lost to the classical music world during April 2020, mostly recently deceased first. May they all rest in peace. We hope that this list is reasonably complete. Please tell us if you know of anyone we have missed out.

British cellist Martin Lovett passed away in North London on 29 April, aged ninety-three. He was born in London on 3 March 1927. After studying cello with his father, a cellist with the London Philharmonic and Hallé Orchestras, he attended the Royal College of Music in London on a scholarship. At nineteen he joined the Amadeus Quartet, remaining with the group for forty years until it disbanded in 1987. Following this, he played with various chamber groups and gave chamber music courses internationally.

American organist and teacher David Boe died on 28 April, aged eighty-four, from complications due to COVID-19. Born in Duluth, Minnesota on 11 March 1936, he studied at Syracuse University with Arthur Poister. On a Fulbright Scholarship, he studied with Helmut Walcha and then Gustav Leonhardt. He was head of the organ department at Oberlin Conservatory until his retirement in 2008. He was also music director and organist at First Lutheran Church in Lorain, Ohio.

American cellist Lynn Harrell died on 27 April, aged seventy-six. Born in New York City to musical parents on 30 January 1944, he began learning cello at the age of nine. He studied at Juilliard with Leonard Rose and at the Curtis Institute with Orlando Cole. After the deaths of both his parents when Harrell was still a teenager, he joined the Cleveland Orchestra, and was principal cellist there from 1964 until 1971, when his career as a soloist was launched with a recital in New York and, a year later, a well-reviewed Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center concert.

Greek soprano Jeannette Pilou passed away on 27 April, aged eighty-two. She was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to Greek parents on 11 July 1937. She studied in Italy with Carla Castellani. Following her 1959 operatic debut as Violetta at Milan's Teatro Smeraldo, she appeared on stage at Vienna State Opera in 1964 and then began to appear at top venues internationally, and performed regularly at Greek National Opera, singing Mélisande in the 1998 Greek premiere of Pelléas et Mélisande. She was described as 'a little bit East, a little bit West'.

Engish pianist Rosemarie Wright passed away on 25 April, aged eighty-eight. (Her death was announced on 3 June.) Born in Chorley, Lancashire on 12 December 1931, she studied with Harold Craxton at the Royal Academy of Music, and later with Bruno Seidlhofer, Edwin Fischer and Wilhelm Kempff. She also studied chamber music with Pablo Casals. She won a series of high profile prizes, and had a notable international career. She taught at Southampton University, the Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music.

American percussionist, teacher and inventor of instruments, Alan Abel, died in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, on 25 April, aged ninety-one, from complications following COVID-19. Born in Hobart, Indiana on 6 December 1928, he began percussion lessons aged seven. He studied at the Eastman School of Music (1947-51) and then signed up and played in the US Air Force Band (1951-3). After six years with Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra (1953-9) he spent the rest of his career as Associate Principal Percussionist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, retiring in 1997. From 1972 he taught at Temple University, and was regarded as one of the USA's most influential percussion teachers. His percussion inventions included a bass drum stand with the instrument suspended on rubber bands and several unique designs of triangle.

Lithuanian composer Vytautas Barkauskas passed away in Vilnius on 25 April, aged eighty-nine. Born in Kaunas on 25 March 1931, he studied at Vilnius Conservatory with Nadia Boulanger pupil Antanas Račiūnas. With degrees in maths and composition, Barkauskas was one of Lithuania's most avant-garde composers, influenced by Ligeti, Lutosławski and Penderecki. His output included symphonies, operas, concertos and chamber music. During the 21st century, his music won various prizes, including the 2003 Lithuanian State Prize.

American conductor Robert Mandell died in Leicester, UK on 25 April, aged ninety, following a fall, and tested positive for COVID-19. Born in New York City on 29 August 1929, he was a child actor and began conducting as a music undergraduate at The City College of New York, which led him to Tanglewood and three summers studying conducting with Leonard Bernstein. In the 1960s he began recording in the UK, was director of music for a musical in London, then was executive music director at The Haymarket Theatre in Leicester. He worked with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to develop concerts for families and young people.

American conductor David Daniels passed away on 24 April, aged eighty-six. Born in Penn Yan, New York on 20 December 1933, he studied at Eastman, Oberlin, Boston University and the University of Iowa. He was music director of the Warren Symphony Orchestra in Michigan from 1974 until he retired in 2010. He conducted opera in Boston, and was a guest conductor with various other US groups including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He also visited Venezuela to conduct the Orquesta Sinfonia de Maracaibo.

British opera company director and arts administrator Peter Jonas died on 22 April, aged seventy-three. Born on 14 October 1946, he studied English Literature and then History of Music in London and at the Eastman School of Music in the USA. He worked as assistant to Georg Solti at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and became the orchestra's artistic administrator. Back in London, he managed English National Opera from 1985 until 1993, and was then Staatsintendant of Bavarian State Opera from 1993 until 2006.

Slovenian-born conductor Maksimilijan Cenčić passed away on or before 19 April, aged sixty-eight, following a long illness. Born in 1951, he studied at the Zagreb Music Academy. He worked as an opera accompanist and staff conductor at the Croatian National Theatre, as assistant conductor to Václav Neumann at the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, and as a staff conductor at Vienna State Opera.

Russian composer Alexander Vustin died in Moscow on 19 April, aged seventy-six, from either pneumonia or COVID-19. Born on 24 April 1943 in the former Soviet Union, he studied initially with Grigory Frid and then at Moscow Conservatory with Vladimir Ferè. He employed twelve-tone compositional techniques, but in his own way. He is known for his opera The Devil in Love.

American soprano Arlene Saunders passed away from COVID-19 on 17 April, aged eighty-nine. Born in Cleveland on 5 October 1930, she made her operatic debut in 1958 with the National Opera Company, and appeared at New York City Opera in 1961. She performed at Hamburg State Opera (where she was named a Kammersängerin in 1967) and in Buenos Aires (Teatro Colón), Leeds, London, Milan, Paris, Rome and Vienna.

Canadian harpsichordist, musicologist, organist and teacher Kenneth Gilbert died on 16 April, aged eighty-eight. Born in Montreal on 16 December 1931, he studied harmony and counterpoint with Gabriel Cusson and piano with Yvonne Hubert at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal and organ privately with Conrad Letendre. Winning the 1953 Prix d'Europe for organ performance led to further studies in Paris with Nadia Boulanger for composition, Maurice Duruflé and Gaston Litaize for organ, and Ruggero Gerlin and Sylvie Spicket for harpischord. He also studied harpsichord privately, later, with Wanda Ladowska. His recordings include music by J S Bach, Boehm, Buxtehude, Rameau and Walther, and he received various prestigious awards.

Czech violinist and viola player Jan Talich (senior) died on 16 April, aged seventy-four. He was born in Pilsen in 1945 and studied at the Prague Conservatory. He formed the Talich Quartet in 1964, naming it after his uncle, Václav Talich, the conductor and founder of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. The quartet gave more than three thousand concerts and recorded all the quartets of Bartók, Beethoven, Janáček and Mozart. Jan Talich led the quartet until approximately 1970, then became its viola player until 2000. His son Jan Talich (junior) currently leads the quartet.

Swedish mezzo Kerstin Meyer passed away on 14 April, aged ninety-two. Born on 3 April 1928 in Stockholm, she studied there at the Royal College of Music and the Opera School, then, on a scholarship, at the Salzburg Mozarteum and in Siena. Following her 1952 debut at Royal Swedish Opera, she sang Carmen in a new production, and this led to her performing around the world, including at Bayreuth, New York Metropolitan Opera, the Edinburgh Festival and on tours to Australia, the Far East and the Americas. Whilst working at Hamburg State Opera, she began to specialise in modern repertoire.

Nigerian composer, musicologist and pianist Akin Euba died on 14 April, aged eighty-four. Born in Lagos on 28 April 1935, he studied at Trinity College of Music in London, at the University of California, Los Angeles and at the University of Ghana, where his PhD was in ethnomusicology. He held a series of academic music posts and organised symposia on music in Africa and the Diaspora at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and at Churchill College, Cambridge. He performed under the umbrella of the Elekoto Ensemble with musicians from China, Germany, India, Malta, Nigeria and the USA.

Dutch pianist Louis van Dijk passed away in Laren on 12 April, aged seventy-eight. Born on 27 November 1941 in Amsterdam, he studied solo piano there at the Amsterdam Conservatorium. He was a member of the trio De Gevleugelde Vrienden (The Winged Friends) with pianists Pim Jacobs and Pieter van Vollenhoven. He also performed at an Amsterdam Concertgebouw concert in September 2005 to raise funds for hurricane-hit New Orleans.

Chinese pipa player Liu Dehai died in Beijing on 11 April, aged eighty-two. Born in Shanghai on 13 August 1937, he studied pipa with Lin Shicheng and then at the Central Conservatory of Music. He remained at the conservatory to teach as a professor, and later worked at the China Conservatory of Music. He developed new performance techniques, played in over thirty countries, and taught many other pipa executants who also achieved success overseas.

Indian classical singer Shanti Hiranand passed away in Gurugram on 10 April, aged eighty-six. Born in Lucknow, now Uttar Pradesh, in 1933, she studied at the Bhatkhande Music Institute and gave her first performance in 1947 on All India Radio. She continued her training with Indian singer Begum Akhtar until 1974. She received the Padma Shri award from the Government of India and, during her last decades, taught music in Delhi at Triveni Kala Sangam.

Russian-born British composer and teacher Dmitri Smirnov died in Watford on 9 April, aged seventy-one, after contracting COVID-19. Born in Minsk on 2 November 1948 into a family of opera singers, he studied privately and also at the Moscow Conservatory. After seven years working for a music publisher, he became a freelance composer, gaining international recognition with Solo for Harp which won a prize in Maastricht in 1976, but in 1979 he was blacklisted by the Union of Soviet Composers for participating in festivals in the West without approval. He moved to England in 1991, and held a series of high profile appointments at Cambridge, Dartington, Keele University and Goldsmiths College. His music reflects his fascination with the work of William Blake.

American composer of electronic music, keyboard player and improviser Richard Teitelbaum died from a stroke on 9 April, aged eighty. Born in New York City on 19 May 1939, he studied at Haverford College (where he met Henry Cowell), Mannes School of Music and Yale. He studied in Italy on a Fulbright Fellowship with Goffredo Petrassi and Luigi Nono, becoming a founding member of Musica Elettronica Viva in Rome, and taking the first Moog synthesizer to Europe in 1967. Back in the USA, he studied ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University, founding the World Band, and then studied gagaku and shakuhachi in Japan on another Fulbright Fellowship.

British cellist Eileen Croxford Parkhouse passed away on 8 April, aged ninety-six. Born in 1924, she studied at the Royal College of Music, meeting her future husband David Parkhouse and winning the Queen's Prize and Boise Award, opening the door to studies with Pablo Casals. With violinist Hugh Bean and her pianist husband David she co-founded the Music Group of London, performing for four decades in the UK and abroad. When David died, she set up and became president of the biennial Parkhouse Award, designed to encourage excellence in piano chamber music. She retired to South Devon, establishing the Shaldon Festival.

Belgian composer of electronic music, André Stordeur, died on 7 April, aged seventy-nine. Born at Haine St Paul on 1 March 1941, he began his career in music in 1977, making a tape composition for a film soundtrack. He took part in the Antwerp-based ensemble Studio voor Experimentele Muziek. From 1980 onwards he composed solely using a Serge synthesiser built for him specially by Serge Tcherepnin. In the 1980s he studied with David Wessel at IRCAM in Paris and with Morton Subotnick in the USA. He became an influential teacher of sound synthesis, and wrote The Art of Analog Modular Synthesis by Voltage Control.

Italian baritone Silvano Carroli passed away in Lucca on 4 April, aged eighty-one. He was born in Venice on 22 February 1939. He studied initially with Marcello Del Monaco and then Mario Del Monaco, then at the training school of La Fenice with Floris Ammannati, Mario Labroca and Francesco Siciliani. His debut in 1963 alongside Mirella Freni, Giacomo Aragall and director Franco Zeffirelli, was as Marcello in Puccini's La bohème. Alongside a performing career which saw him on stage with many famous names, he also dedicated years of his life to teaching, much of it at the Del Monaco Foundation.

Swiss composer, oboist and teacher Michel Wiblé died in Geneva on 4 April, aged ninety-seven. He was born in the same city on 24 February 1923 into a family of amateur musicians. He studied at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève - oboe with Paul Dennes and theory with Henri Gagnebin. From 1944 until 1965 he played oboe in the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, then concentrated on composition and teaching, creating a course at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève for music teachers working in public education.

Chilean-born American composer Claudio Spies passed away on 2 April, aged ninety-five. He was born in Santiago on 26 March 1925 to German Jewish parents. He left Chile for the USA in 1942 to study music at New England Conservatory, Longy School of Music, where his teachers included Nadia Boulanger and Harold Shapero, and Harvard, studying with Irving Fine and Otto Gombosi. He taught at Harvard, Vassar College, Swarthmore College, Princeton University and at Juilliard, with subjects including music composition and analysis, Brahms chamber music, courses on music by Stravinsky and Schoenberg, and conducting. He was possibly the first person to teach a course about studying composers' manuscripts.

Award-winning American jazz pianist and teacher Ellis Marsalis Jr died in New Orleans from pneumonia as a result of COVID-19 on 1 April, aged eighty-five. Born in New Orleans on 14 November 1934, he studied classical music at Dillard University, then studied at Loyola University New Orleans. He was the father of American trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and was considered the patriarch of a musical family.

German jazz pianist and organist Dieter Reith died in Stuttgart on 1 April, aged eighty-two. He was born in Mainz on 25 February 1938 and began studying piano in 1945. He studied music and experimental physics. In 1972 he arranged the music for the Munich Summer Olympics, in 1973 he moved to Stuttgart and directed the Süddeutscher Rundfunk orchestra and in 1983 he directed the orchestra representing Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Posted 1 May 2020 and updated 26 June 2020 by Keith Bramich






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