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September 2020 Obituaries

Our summary of those the
classical music world has lost this month


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Here are brief details of some of the people lost to the classical music world during September 2020. May they rest in peace.

Serbian composer and conductor Isidora Žebeljan passed away in Belgrade on 29 September, aged fifty-three. Born in the same city on 27 September 1967, she became known for her opera Zora D, commissioned from London by the Genesis Foundation, and she raised commissions for various projects, often operatic.

Belgian composer and conductor Frédéric Devreese died in Brussels from cancer on 28 September, aged ninety-one. Born in Amsterdam on 2 June 1929, he first became known for his film scores, but also wrote operas, ballets, choral music, chamber pieces, piano music and works for orchestra. He was conductor of the BRT Philharmonic Orchestra and also guest-conducted internationally.

Russian tenor and actor Vyacheslav Voinarovsky passed away in Moscow on 24 September, aged seventy-four. Born in Khabarovsk on 8 February 1946 to Soviet operetta performers, he was a Bolshoi Theatre guest soloist and performed in Prokofiev's War and Peace and The Love of Three Oranges, Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, Puccini's Turandot and Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.

Scottish-born Dutch opera singer, presenter and singing teacher Caroline Kaart died on 15 September, aged eighty-eight, in the Rosa Spier House in Laren, North Holland. Born Caroline Paterson Raitt on 21 December 1931 at Blackness in the Firth of Forth, she became a versatile singer with a voice range between mezzo and alto. She moved to the Netherlands when she married the Dutch tenor and actor Kans Kaart. She presented the popular Dutch radio programme Klassiek met Caroline.

Polish orchestral conductor and composer Jan Krenz passed away on 15 September, aged ninety-four. Born at Włocławek in central Poland on 14 July 1926, Krenz began his conducting career as first assistant and then director of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (1949-68). He was later artistic director of the Warsaw Grand Theatre and director of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. In addition to composing his own music, Krenz was the first to conduct Lutosławski's Musique funèbre.

Jan Krenz (1926-2020). Photo © 1993 Andrzej Świetlik
Jan Krenz (1926-2020). Photo © 1993 Andrzej Świetlik

French composer and conductor Paul Méfano died on 15 September, aged eighty-three. Born on 6 March 1937 in Basra, Iraq, Méfano, studied at the École Normale de Musique de Paris, at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and in Basel. His teachers included Darius Milhaud, Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Henri Pousseur and Karlheinz Stockhausen. For a while he lived in the USA and Germany, returning to France in 1970, where he devoted himself to the musical scene there, composing and conducting. He founded and conducted Ensemble 2e2m, giving first performances of over five hundred works by young composers. He founded Editions du Mordant and Editions Musicales Européennes to publish contemporary music, produced radio series, was director of the Conservatoire de Champigny-sur-Marne (1972-88), and taught composition and orchestration at the Paris Conservatoire. He was director of the Conservatoire de Versailles (1996-2005) and was director of the CLSI Ensemble from 2007. His own poetic 'post-spectralist' music made use of serial techniques, microtones and electronics.

Paul Méfano (1937-2020) in 2009
Paul Méfano (1937-2020) in 2009

French conductor and composer Stéphane Caillat passed away on 11 September, aged ninety-two. Born in Lyon in 1928, he studied in Lyon and Paris, founded a choir using his own name, and also founded and directed the Centre d'études polyphoniques et chorales de Paris Île-de-France. He was instrumental in the rediscovery of Baroque music and produced music programmes for France Musique.

German mezzo, contralto and director Annette Jahns died in Dresden on 11 September, aged sixty-two, following a long illness. Born in the same city on 24 June 1958 into a family of opera singers, she studied in Dresden and became a Semperoper ensemble member, creating roles in various contemporary operas. From 1995 she taught at the Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber. She took the role of Grimgerde in Wagner's Die Walküre at the Bayreuth Festival in 2000 and 2001, and in 2003 she directed Madama Butterfly in Dresden.

French composer, teacher, organist and conductor Christian Manen passed away on 11 September, aged eighty-six. Born at Boulogne-Billancourt on 3 July 1934, he studied in Nice and then Paris. His cantata La Loreley won the Prix de Rome in 1961. In total he wrote about 140 works, which included educational pieces as well as choral, vocal, orchestral works and chamber music. He was organist at various Paris churches and founded and conducted the Orchestre des Cadets d'Asnières. He was also a regular conductor of the Istanbul-based Turkish National Orchestra.

Australian composer, pianist and teacher Sonny Chua died in Melbourne on 9 September, aged fifty-two, following a stroke. Born on 2 November 1967 in Penang, Malaysia, his family emigrated to Australia when he was a child. He studied music in Melbourne and went on to create many piano compositions. His playful music is well-known in the Australian educational system and listed in all the examination syllabuses there. He wrote works specifically for use in the Australian Music Examinations Board system. His music also appears in piano competitions internationally.

Belgian orchestral conductor Patrick Davin passed away in Brussels on 9 September, aged fifty-eight. Born at Huy on 16 February 1962, he studied in Huy, Liège and Toulon. His teachers included Pierre Boulez and Peter Eötvös. He was musical and artistic director of the Orchestre symphonique de Mulhouse (2013-20) and became director of the Royal Conservatory of Liège in July 2020.

Luxembourgish military conductor and composer André Reichling died on 7 September, aged sixty-four. Born on 1 February 1956, he is best known for composing 'The NATO Hymn' in 1989, which became NATO's official anthem in 2018. He was bandmaster of the Luxembourg Military Band (1986-2011).

Indian classical composer and music director Mohinder Singh Sarna (known as S Mohinder) passed away in Mumbai on 6 September, aged ninety-five. Born in Sillanwali on 24 February 1925, he was apprenticed to Sikh vocalist Sant Sujan Singh, initially trying to be a singer. Later he learned from another Sikh musician, Bhai Samund Singh. Moving to Mumbai, his first successful film was Nili from 1950. He became a music director in Mumbai's Filmistan Studio for nearly five years.

French coloratura soprano Christiane Eda-Pierre died on 5 September at Saint-Maurice-la-Fougereuse in western France, aged eighty-eight. Originally from Martinique, she was born on 24 March 1932 in Fort-de-France and emigrated to France to study at the Paris Conservatoire. She became known for the standard French and Italian lyric coloratura roles, for her Mozart roles and for her contributions to French baroque opera, particularly Rameau.

Russian double bass player Rinat Ibragimov passed away on 2 September, aged fifty-nine, after contracting COVID-19. Born on 5 November 1960, he switched from cello to double bass at sixteen and worked in Moscow until 1998, but is best known as principal bass of the London Symphony Orchestra (1995-2014) and for various solo performances and recordings.

Posted 19 September 2020 and updated 1 October 2020 by Keith Bramich




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