Here are brief details of some of the people lost to the classical music world during July 2021. May they rest in peace.
English opera director Graham Vick died, aged sixty-seven, in London on 17 July from complications following COVID-19. Born in Birkenhead in 1953, he studied in Manchester. He was director of productions for Scottish Opera and then for Glyndebourne. He founded Birmingham Opera Company and was director there for the rest of his life. More information.
American mezzo-soprano Jean Kraft passed away at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey, on 15 July, aged ninety-four. Born in Menasha, Wisconsin on 9 January 1927, she began her career working as a pianist. She also played clarinet and trumpet. Deciding to re-train, and at first interested more in concert repertoire than opera, she studied voice with Giannini Gregory at the Curtis Institute, and later with Theodore Harrison, William Ernest Vedal and Povla Frijsh. She first appeared on stage in Tanglewood and at New York City Opera in the early 1960s. From 1965 until 1987 she sang with Santa Fe Opera, and from 1970 until 1989 she sang on contract to New York Metropolitan Opera. She retired from singing in 1990 but continued to teach in Santa Fe.
Catalan musicologist and priest Joan Parets Serra died in Palma de Mallorca or 13 July 2021. Born in Santa María del Camino, Mallorca, in 1940, he was ordained as a priest in 1967. His first clerical appointment was in Bunyola, Mallorca, where he founded the Polyphonic Choir of Bunyola. He worked in Lima, Peru, from 1975 until 1981, and lived in Peru again from 1987 until 1989. In 1984, back in Mallorca, he founded the Centre for Research and Historical-Musical Documentation of Mallorca, and in 1990 he became president of the Diocesan Commission for Sacred Music.
Esther Béjarano, one of the last survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp, passed away in Hamburg on 10 July, aged ninety-six. Born Esther Löwy on 15 December 1924 into a Jewish community in Saarlouis, her cantor father encouraged her interest in music, and she learned to play the piano. At fifteen she made an unsuccessful attempt to emigrate to Palestine, and was sentenced to two years of hard labour. In 1943, along with everyone else in the labour camp, she was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Initially her work there was to drag stones, until she joined the Mädchenorchester von Auschwitz (Women's Orchestra of Auschwitz), created by order of the SS to play music regarded as helpful to the running of the camp. Esther played accordion in the orchestra, despite never having played accordion before. Her colleagues included cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, mother of British cellist Raphael Wallfisch. The orchestra grew in size to over forty players, saving their lives. After the war, Esther moved to Palestine in 1945 and then returned to Germany with her family in 1960. In the 1980s she formed the group Coincidence to sing songs from the ghetto, songs in Hebrew and anti-fascist songs. She co-founded and chaired the International Auschwitz Committee and was hororary chair of the Union of Persecutees of the Nazi Regime.
American ethnomusicologist Barbara Barnard Smith died on 3 July 2021. Born on 8 June 1920, she studied music literature at the Eastman School of Music and began teaching piano and music theory at UH Mānoa in Honolulu, Hawai'i. Feeling guilty about the ongoing destruction of the indigenous cultures of the Pacific islands and Hawai'i, she began to learn how to rigorously study and write about these cultures, founding and developing the study of ethnomusicology at the University of Hawai'i and winning the 2009 Fumio Koizumi Prize for Ethnomusicology. She continued to advise PhD students until shortly before her death.
Dutch composer Louis Andriessen died in Weesp on 1 July, aged eighty-two.
Posted 18 July 2021 by Keith Bramich