Here are brief details of some of the people lost to the classical music world during May 2021. May they rest in peace.
Italian ballet dancer and actress Carla Fracci died in Milan on 27 May, aged eighty-four. Born in the same city on 20 August 1936, she began dancing at the age of ten at La Scala Theatre Ballet School with teachers including Vera Volkova. Best known for her performances in Giselle, she danced with Nureyev and Vasiliev, amongst others, and at La Scala, New York Metropolitan Opera and Covent Garden.
Spanish composer and conductor Cristóbal Halffter Jiménez-Encina passed away on 23 May in Villafranca del Bierzo, León, aged ninety-one. Born in Madrid on 24 March 1930, he studied at the Real Conservatorio de Música with Spanish composer, violinist and teacher Conrado del Campo and then in Paris with Alexandre Tansman and André Jolivet. His uncles Rodolfo Halffter ad Ernesto Halffter were also composers. His 1953 neoclassical Piano Concerto won the 1954 National Music Prize. Later, in 1989, he won the Premio Nacional de Música. His output, which includes three operas, combines avant-garde techniques with traditional Spanish elements, and is published by Universal Edition. In the 1960s and 70s he wrote music on the subject of human rights, including Yes, speak out, yes (1968) for choir. From 1955 he was conductor of the Falla Orchestra, and from 1961 he was Professor of Composition at Madrid's Real Conservatorio de Música, briefly becoming the Conservatory's director (1964-66).
Czech conductor Martin Turnovský died on 19 May, aged ninety-two. Born in Prague on 29 September 1928, he studied with Karel Ančerl at the Prague Academy of Musical Arts and later with George Szell. He won first prize in the 1958 Besançon International Conductors Competition. He was chief conductor of the Plzeň Radio Symphony Orchestra (1963-6), Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden and Semperoper (1966-8), Norwegian National Opera (1975-80), the Opera in Bonn (1979-83) and the Prague Symphony Orchestra (1992-5). Between 1960 and 1968 he was also permanent guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. After the Prague Spring, he emigrated to Austria, was granted citizenship there, and conducted a series of high profile western orchestras, worldwide. He returned to Prague following the 1989 revolutions.
American soprano Mildred Allen passed away on 15 May, aged ninety-one. Born on 26 October 1929, she studied at the University of Mississippi and then at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where her teachers included Boris Goldovsky. Her professional debut was as the title role in the opera Griffelkin by Lukas Foss at Tanglewood in 1956. From 1957 until 1962 she sang regularly at New York Metropolitan Opera and occasionally with other American companies. During the rest of the 1960s she performed regularly at Washington National Opera, occasionally with Central City Opera and from time to time in Europe. From 1987 until 2009 she taught a variety of subjects including voice and also directed student opera productions at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, and continued to teach privately after 2009 from her home in Birmingham, Alabama.
Estonian composer Ester Mägi died on 14 May, aged ninety-nine.
Hungarian composer and teacher Sándor Balassa passed away on 14 May, aged eighty-six. Born in Budapest on 20 January 1935, he studied music with Endre Szervánszky, and won the 1983 Hungarian state-sponsored Kossuth Prize. He created music programmes for Hungarian Radio and taught at the Academy of Music (1981-98).
English conductor Malcolm Goldring died on 12 May from pancreatic cancer, aged seventy-two.
British soprano Pauline Tinsley died on 10 May, aged ninety-three. Born in Wigan on 27 March 1928, she studied with Margaret Dillon and Ellis Keeler at the Northern College of Music and then with Joan Cross, Eva Turner and Roy Henderson in London. She began her career with the Philopera Company in London, singing Desdemona in Rossini's Otello in 1961. She Joined Welsh National Opera in 1962 and English National Opera in 1963, and specialised in Richard Strauss, Puccini and Verdi operas. From 1965 she sang at Covent Garden, and she also made appearances at Glyndebourne, New York City Opera and in Hamburg, Houston, Santa Fe, Vancouver and Zürich.
Posted 27 May 2021 by Keith Bramich