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Newsletter plus June Obituaries

'Louis Andriessen', Classical Music Daily's July 2021 Newsletter, has just been published, along with a summary of musicians the classical music world lost last month


Classical Music Daily publishes a monthly newletter, normally on the first day of each month. Louis Andriessen, our July 2021 newsletter, has just been published. It has six pages and seven illustrations. This 2.6Mb download can be accessed by following the link below.

Classical Music Daily's July 2021 newsletter


We plan to resume our video podcast format newsletters in August 2021.

To read our previous newsletters, please visit the newsletters page. To register to receive an email every month, when each newsletter has been published, please visit the updates page.


Here are brief details of some of the people lost to the classical music world during June 2021. May they rest in peace.

American composer and pianist Frederic Rzewski passed away on 26 June in Montiano, Italy, apparently from a heart attack, aged eighty-three. Born in Westfield, Massachusetts into a Polish Catholic family on 13 April 1938, he began to play the piano at five. He studied at Harvard and Princeton and in Florence. His teachers included Miton Babbitt, Luigi Dallapiccola, Walter Piston, Roger Sessions and Randall Thompson. He began a career as a performer of new and often improvisatory piano music, and in Rome in 1966 he founded, with Alvin Curran, Richard Teitelbaum and possibly others, the improvisational group Musica Elettronica Viva. The group developed a process of creating music as a live, collective, collaborative process, and featured electronic instruments. The European, and especially Italian, modern music scene was very important to Rzewski, and in 1977 he became Professor of Composition at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique in Liège, run by Henri Pousseur. He also taught briefly at various other educational establishments in Europe and the USA, including the Royal Conservatoire in Den Haag, Trinity College in London and Yale University in Connecticut. He became known for music inspired by socio-historic and secular themes with a deep political conscience, the best-known examples being Coming Together and The People United Will Never Be Defeated! In addition to his own music, he recorded piano works by, for example, Anthony Braxton, Cornelius Cardew, Tom Johnson, Henri Pousseur and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

Frederic Rzewski (1938-2021) playing his own music
Frederic Rzewski (1938-2021) playing his own music

Dutch music director Ad van't Veer died in Middelburg on 23 June, aged eighty. Born in Goes on 24 February 1941, he was one of the organisers of the 1976 Festival Nieuwe Muziek in Middelburg. In 1980, with pianist Geoffrey Douglas Madge, he co-founded the Xenakis Ensemble, the Dutch contemporary classical music ensemble specialising in music by Iannis Xenakis, and also based in Middelburg. From 1984 until his retirement he was director of Stichting Nieuwe Muziek Zeeland, the New Music Zeeland Foundation.

South African composer (James Steven) Mzilikazi Khumalo passed away on 22 June, aged eighty-nine. Born on 20 June 1932 on the KwaNgwelu Farm in Natal, he studied to be a teacher and then became a language tutor. His compositions mainly set Zulu texts. The first, Ma Ngificwa Ukufa was first performed in 1959. Five African Songs for choir and orchestra has been recorded by the Chamber Choir of the South African Broadcasting Corporation and the South African National Symphony Orchestra. He was also known for his 1986 choral work for the enthronement of Desmond Tutu, for his role in producing South Africa's post-apartheid National Anthem at the request of Nelson Mandela, and for writing the first Zulu language opera, Princess Magogo kaDinuzulu in 2002.

American-born Canadian baroque violinist and conductor Jeanne Lamon died in Victoria, British Columnbia, on 20 June, aged seventy-one. Born in New York on 14 August 1949, she began to study violin at the age of seven. She studied at Westchester Conservatory, Brandeis University and in the Netherlands with Herman Krebbers. In the 1970s she established a career as a baroque specialist, working as soloist and concertmaster with various ensembles and orchestras, and in 1974 she was the first violinist to win the Erwin Bodky Award for Excellence in the Performance of Early Music. Two guest appearances in Canada with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra resulted in her becoming the orchestra's music director, and in her moving to Toronto in 1981, taking Canadian citizenship from 1988 and being appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2000 and a Member of the Order of Ontario in 2014. Under her leadership, Tafelmusik achieved international stature, and they made a series of recordings for Analekta, CBC Records, Nonesuch, Philips and Sony Classical. She retired as the orchestra's full-time music director at the end of the 2013/14 season.

American coloratura soprano Gianna Rolandi passed away in Chicago on 20 June, aged sixty-eight. Born in New York City on 16 August 1952 to another soprano, Jane Frazier, she grew up in South Carolina and initially studied violin before taking voice lessons at the Brevard Music Center and then at the Curtis Institute. She was a finalist in the 1974 Metropolitan Opera auditions, and won the Minna Kaufmann Ruud Competiion. She gained a contract with New York City Opera and sang over thirty roles with them during the next fifteen years. She began to appear with many other North American opera companies, including New York Metropolitan Opera (from 1979) and the Lyric Opera of Chicago from 1986. She also began to appear in Europe from 1981, in Geneva, Glyndebourne, Pesaro and Turin. She married British conductor Andrew Davis in 1989, retired from singing in 1994 and became Director of Vocal Studies at Lyric Opera of Chicago's Ryan Opera Center and the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists in 2002. From 2006 until retiring after the 2012/13 season she was Director of the Ryan Opera Center and the LOCAA.

Canadian composer Roberta Stephen died on 19 June, aged ninety.

German conductor Heribert Beissel died on 11 June, aged eighty-eight. Born in Wesel on 27 March 1933, he studied piano and conducting at the Hochschule für Musik Köln, conducting with Günter Wand and composition with Frank Martin. He began his career in the traditional way as a repetiteur, then was Kapellmeister at Bonn Opera from 1955 until 1964. From 1971 until 1985 he was chief conductor of the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, and from 1991 until 1999 he was chief conductor of the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Halle. From 2001 until 2006 he was Generalmusikdirektor of Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt.

British composer and choral director Gwyn Arch passed away in June 2021, aged probably ninety. His death was announced on 8 June. Born in Southampton on 4 May 1931, he studied English at Cambridge University and taught at Rickmansworth Grammar School while studying composition at Trinity College in his spare time. From 1964 until 1985 he was Director of Music at Bulmershe College and also worked for the BBC. He was musical director of South Chiltern Choral Society for nearly fifty years. He was founder of the Reading Male Voice Choir in 1971 and conducted the group until 2015. He wrote much choral music for mixed voices and male choirs, selling his male choir music via his own company Grove Music.

American mezzo and actress Karla Burns died on 4 June, aged sixty-six in Wichita, Kansas. Born in the same city on 24 December 1954 into a musical family, she played clarinet and sang in the school choir. She studied Music Education and Theater Performance at Wichita State University, appearing in various productions including Bernstein's Mass and The Threepenny Opera, touring Europe with the university choir and making her professional stage debut whilst still a student. Her performances as Queenie in Jerome Kern's Show Boat from 1981 onwards defined her future career, winning her several awards for her appearances in the Houston Grand Opera production, capturing the attention of Egyptian audiences at Cairo Opera House and winning her the Laurence Olivier Award for her part in the 1989 Opera North / Royal Shakespeare Company revival in the UK. Later successes included Addie in Regina by Marc Blitzstein, and Lily in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. She also appeared on TV and in many Shakespeare productions, and continued to perform until 2020.

Russian harpsichordist, organist, pianist, writer, broadcaster, music historian and teacher Alexander Maykapar died on 1 June, aged seventy-four.

Posted 1 July 2021 and last updated 8 October 2021 by Keith Bramich




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