News from around the world

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 Vedernikov passed away in Moscow on 29 October, aged fifty-six, due to COVID-19. Born in the same city on 11 January 1964 into a family of professional musicians, he studied with Leonid Nikolaev at the Moscow Conservatory and also learnt with Mark Ermler. Vedernikov established the Russian Philharmonia Symphony Orchestra in 1995 and was its artistic director and chief conductor until 2004. From 2001 he was music director of the Bolshoi Theatre, and from 2009 until 2018 he was chief conductor of the Odense Symphony Orchestra. From 2018/19 he was chief conductor of Royal Danish Opera. He recorded mainly Russian music for labels including Hyperion, Naive and Pentatone.

English pianist Eric Parkin died on 3 February 2020, aged ninety-five. Although not an October passing, this sad news was not widely known until the end of October 2020.

Italian soprano Rosanna Carteri passed away on 25 October in Monte Carlo, Monaco, aged eighty-nine. Born in Verona on 14 December 1930, she grew up in Padua. She studied with Ferrucio Cusinati and won a RAI singing contest in 1948, which led to her operatic debut in Rome the following year, as Elsa in Lohengrin. She appeared at La Scala, the Salzburg Festival, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Verona Arena, Paris Opera and Covent Garden. She also made some recordings for Cetra Soria and RCA Victor, and appeared on TV films. She recorded Poulenc's Gloria with Georges Prêtre and French national radio. Her short career ended in 1966, when she retired to devote time to her family.

Dutch composer Jan Boerman died on 25 October, aged ninety-seven. Born on 30 June 1923 in Den Haag, he undertook traditional training as a pianist and composer, studying at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Den Haag with Léon Orthel for piano and Hendrik Andriessen for composition. From 1956 onwards he worked in the sphere of electronic music, at Delft Polytechnic, Utrecht State University and at Den Haag's Royal Conservatory of Music. Later he would integrate electronic music with instrumental and vocal music and compose theatre and ballet music. With architect Jan Hoogstad he created 'music as architectonic space'. From 1974 he was professor of electronic composition at Den Haag's Royal Conservatory, helping many young composers, including Sinta Wultur.

Canadian-American soprano Erin Wall passed away on 8 October, aged forty-four, due to complications from breast cancer. Born in Calgary on 4 November 1975 to American parents, she studied in Vancouver, Washington, Texas, California and Illinois, and reached the finals of the 2003 Cardiff Singer of the World competition. She began her career with three seasons at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where she got good reviews. She later sang at New York's Mostly Mozart Festival, Santa Fe Opera, Washington National Opera and at New York Metropolitan Opera. Internationally her appearances included Aix-en-Provence, Bergen, Edinburgh, Lima, London, Milan, Oslo, Paris and Vienna.

French pianist Jean Martin died in Paris on 7 October, aged ninety-two. Born in Lyon on 7 November 1927, he studied in Lyon and then at the Conservatoire de Paris with Yves Nat. Later he learned with Guido Agosti. Martin was a specialist in Romantic repertoire, and made recordings of music by Johannes Brahms, Gabriel Fauré, Benjamin Godard, Stephen Heller, Theodor Kirchner, Clara and Robert Schumann and Carl Maria von Weber. He was director of music at two theatres, and also had a teaching career, in Grenoble, then Saint-Quentin, Bobigny and Versailles. He also gave interpretation masterclasses in Portugal.

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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