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January 2022 Obituaries

Our summary of those the
classical music world lost this month


Here are brief details of some of the people lost to the classical music world during January 2022. May they rest in peace.

French composer Alain Bancquart passed away on 27 January, aged eighty-seven. Born in Dieppe on 20 June 1934, he studied with Darius Milhaud at the Conservatoire de Paris then played viola with the Orchestre National de France until 1973. From 1973 until 1974 he was musical director of regional orchestras for the French broadcaster ORTF and from 1975 until 1976 he was musical director of the Orchestre National de France. As a composer, from 1967 onwards, he worked with micro-intervals - first quarter-tones and then sixteenth-tones - using neo-serial techniques.

Alain Bancquart (1934-2022)
Alain Bancquart (1934-2022)

German choral conductor, composer, baritone and teacher Georg Christoph Biller died on 27 January, aged sixty-six. Born in Nebra on 20 September 1955, he sang in the Thomanerchor in Leipzig from 1965 until 1974. He studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater 'Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy' Leipzig and became choral conductor at the Leipzig Gewandhaus and a lecturer in conducting, first at Kirchenmusikschule Halle and then later in Detmold and Frankfurt. In 1992 he became Thomaskantor - the sixteenth successor to Bach in this role - and re-focused the Thomanerchor on church music, following the reunification of Germany. From 2002 he was involved in organising the new building for the Thomanenchor's boarding school and, ten years later, celebrated the choir's eight hundredth anniversary.

American composer and sound editor Kenneth Gail Wannberg passed away on 26 January, aged ninety-one. He was born on 28 June 1930. His film scores include The Tender Warrior (1971), The Great American Beauty Contest (1973), Mother Lode (1982) and The Philadelphia Experiment (1984). Working with composer John Williams, he edited the music for various films including Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, JFK, Schindler’s List and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Indian Hindustani classical music singer and Marathi actress Kirti (or Keerti) Shiledar died in Pune from kidney problems on 22 January, aged sixty-nine. She was born in 1952 into a family of Marathi actors and began her acting career at twelve. She studied singing with Nilkanth Abhyankar.

Romanian painter, sculptor and composer Felicia Donceanu passed away in Drăgoeşti on 21 January, aged ninety. Born in Bacău on 28 January 1931, she studied composition with Mihail Jora in Bucharest at the Ciprian Porumbescu Conservatory. She worked as an editor, first for ESPLA (Editura de Stat Pentru Literatură şi Artă) and then for Editura Muzicala. Later she turned to composition full-time, writing music that has been performed internationally. She wrote mostly chamber music, influenced by Romanian folk music and sometimes using traditional folk instruments. She also wrote music for instrumental ensembles and for stage plays.

Sorbian (West Slavic ethnic) composer Juro Mětšk died in Herrnhut, Saxony, Germany on 20 January, aged sixty-seven. Born at Bautzen (then in East Germany) on 1 May 1954, he studied in Berlin at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler and worked as a school teacher. Later, after further studies with Reiner Bredemeyer at Berlin's Academy of Arts, he worked for three years as a dramaturg at the Deutsch-Sorbisches Volkstheater in Bautzen, settling there for the rest of his life, working as a freelance composer. His composition Syndrom won a prize for young composers from the Westdeutscher Rundfunk.

Greek/Austrian conductor Karolos Trikolidis passed away on 20 January, aged seventy-four. Born in Bad Aussee, Austria on 24 July 1947 to Greek/Austrian parents, he studied in Vienna and Salzburg - violin, composition, percussion and conducting. He assisted Adrian Boult and Giuseppe Patanae. Following a competition in Paris, he was invited to work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra alongside Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa and André Previn. He won various conducting competitions in the 1970s, and had permanent jobs as Kapellmeister at Hungarian and German opera houses. He also worked with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Russian National Orchestra. For nearly forty years he was musical director of the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra, and guest conducted in Australia, Europe, Japan and Russia.

English tenor, conductor and vocal coach Nigel Rogers died on 19 January, aged eighty-six. Born at Wellington in Shropshire on 21 March 1935, he was a choral scholar at King's College, Cambridge, and also studied in Rome, Milan and Munich. After working in Munich as a founder member of the medieval quartet Studio der Frühen Musik, he worked as a soloist in opera and oratorio, and became an expert in early music.

Following a two month illness, Mexican tenor Rafael Rojas passed away at his home in Mexico on 18 January, aged fifty-nine. Born on 15 September 1962 in Guadalajara, he studied in his home town and then in the UK at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and the Royal Northern College of Music. Winning the Domingo Prize at the 1995 Operalia Competition cleared the path to performances in the USA, including at Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera and at Boston Opera House. In 1999 he began to sing in Europe, as well as in Australia and New Zealand, building a reputation for Puccini and Verdi performances. In his hometown he founded and sponsored the Guadalajara Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Finnish composer and pianist Paavo Johannes Heininen died on 18 January, aged eighty-four. Born in Helsinki on 13 January 1938, he studied composition with Aarre Merikanto, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Einar Englund and Joonas Kokkonen at the Sibelius Academy, then with Bernd Alois Zimmermann in Cologne, with Vincent Persichetti and Eduard Steuermann at Juilliard in New York and privately in Poland with Witold Lutosławski. Heininen's earlier music, including his Symphony No 1, received hostile reactions, and so he developed a more personal, audience-friendly style, of which his Symphony No 2, Petite symphonie joyeuse, is an example. He taught composition at the Sibelius Academy, where his students included Magnus Lindberg and Kaija Saariaho.

Indian tabla player and percussionist Badal Roy passed away from COVID-19 in Wilmington, Delaware, USA on 18 January, aged eighty-two. Born Amarendra Roy Chowdhury in Comilla (then in India, now in Bangladesh) on 16 October 1939, he was introduced to the tabla by his uncle, and became influenced by American popular music and jazz. He moved to New York City, taking various jobs, and later settling in East Brunswick Township in New Jersey. He studied tabla briefly with Alla Rakha, but was largely self-taught. He played during his time off from work, where he was spotted by various musicians and offered work. He became known for his contributions to jazz, world and experimental musics.

Italian composer, guitarist and musicologist Angelo Gilardino died on 14 January, aged eighty. Born at Vercelli on 16 November 1941, he had a busy career, giving hundreds of first performances of new guitar works, teaching in Vercelli and Alessandria, composing concertos, chamber music and solo works for the guitar, and supervising the publication by Edizioni Musicali Bèrben of many new guitar works. He discovered or rediscovered guitar pieces by Lennox Berkeley, Pierre de Bréville, Ottorino Respighi and Cyril Scott.

British composer Francis Jackson died in York on 10 January 2022, aged one-hundred-and-four.

Posted 31 January 2022 and last updated 29 February 2024
by Keith Bramich




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