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October 2020 Obituaries

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


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

Russian conductor Alexander Alexeev passed away in St Petersburg on 7 October, aged eighty-two. Born in Belkovo (Novgorod Oblast) on 10 March 1938, he studied choral and orchestral conducting (1957-66) at the Leningrad Conservatory with K A Olchova and Edouard Grikurov. Later he was chosen to study with Hans Swarowsky at the Vienna Music Academy. His first appointments were with Ulyanovsk State Symphony Orchestra, Chelyabinsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre and what is now the Mikhailovsky Theatre. In 1978 he was awarded the title of Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation. He also worked at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow (1982-4). He never joined the communist party, was not allowed to work in the West (where he had been invited to be music director of the Finnish Radio Orchestra). Instead he was Music Director of the Kharkov Philharmonic Orchestra until 1992, when he began teaching orchestral conducting at the St Petersburg State Conservatory. From 2000 until 2008 he was head of the conducting department there.

Alexander Alexeev (1938-2020) rehearsing in 1973
Alexander Alexeev (1938-2020) rehearsing in 1973

French musicologist Yves Gérard died from cancer on 6 October, aged eighty-eight. He was born in Châlons-sur-Marne on 6 January 1932 and studied philosophy then piano in Nancy, then with composer and musicologist Jacques Chailly at the Sorbonne and finally music history, musicology and aesthetics with Norbert Dufourcq at the Conservatoire de Paris. From 1975 until his retirement in 1997 he was professor of music history and musicology at the Conservatoire, succeeding his teacher, Norbert Dufourcq. His main musicological contributions have been on Berlioz, Boccherini and Saint-Saëns and he has also written about eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century French music and on late-eighteenth century chamber music in Austria, Italy and Spain.

Russian baritone Vladislav Piavko died in Moscow on 6 October, aged seventy-nine. Born in Krasnoyarsk on 4 February 1941, he studied at GITIS - the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts - and was a soloist with the Bolshoi Theatre from 1966 until 1989. After appearing as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Galina Vishnevskaya in the title role in 1966, he took an internship at Teatro alla Scala in Italy. From 1989 until 1996 he was a soloist with the German State Opera, where he performed mainly Italian repertoire. He also toured extensively internationally, appearing in countries including Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, Romania, Spain and Yugoslavia.

Czech tenor and actor Karel Fiala died in Prague on 3 October, aged ninety-five. Born in Hrušov (Ostrava) on 3 August 1925, he studied in Prague at the Conservatory and then at the Academy of Performing Arts. Generally he appeared in operettas and musicals such as The Merry Widow and My Fair Lady, but he was also known for portraying the character Don Giovanni in the 1984 Mozart film Amadeus.

Posted 8 October 2020 by Keith Bramich




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