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May 2022 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 May 2022. May they rest in peace.

English organist, harpsichordist, conductor and composer Simon Preston passed away on 13 May 2022, aged eighty-three. Born in Bournemouth on 4 August 1938, he began to learn to play the organ, aged five. He was an organ scholar at King's College Cambridge, and then took a series of jobs: sub-organist of Westminster Abbey (1963-67), temporary cover for Peter Hurford at St Albans Cathedral (1968), organist and lecturer at Christ Church, Oxford (from 1970), then organist and master of the choristers at Westminster Abbey (1981-87). After this he worked internationally as a concert soloist. From the 1960s he composed organ works, including his 1965 set of Alleluias in the style of Messiaen, and also recorded organ music, including the complete organ works of J S Bach and two sets of recordings of Handel's complete organ concerti. On the harpsichord he recorded Poulenc's Concert champêtre.

Simon Preston (1938-2022)
Simon Preston (1938-2022)

Spanish mezzo Teresa Berganza died in San Lorenzo de El Escorial on 13 May 2022, aged eighty-nine.

American composer Henry Mollicone died on 12 May, aged seventy-five or seventy-six, after a long illness. Born in 1946, he became known for single-act operas such as The Face on the Barroom Floor, The Mask of Evil, Starbird and Emperor Norton. Influenced by Bernstein, Britten, Puccini and Verdi, he also wrote three full-length operas, ballet music, choral and vocal and chamber works. He taught in the department of music at Santa Clara University and lived in Saratoga in California.

English flautist and teacher William Bennett passed away on 11 May, aged eighty-six, in London. Born in the same city on 7 February 1936, he began to play the recorder at eight and the flute at twelve. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama then made a career as an orchestral flautist in major British orchestras and also as a soloist and chamber musician, performing with Osian Ellis, George Malcolm and Yehudi Menuhin. He made over a hundred recordings. Diana Burrell, William Mathias and Raimundo Pineda wrote flute concertos for him. He gave masterclasses internationally, and taught at the Royal Academy of Music in London and at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg. He was also known for his modifications to flute design.

Georgian-born American pianist Alexander Toradze died on 11 May, aged sixty-nine, in South Bend, Indiana, USA, after suffering acute heart failure three weeks earlier while performing. Born in Tbilisi on 30 May 1952, his father was the well-known Georgian composer David Toradze (1922-1983). Alexander studed at the central music school in Tbilisi and performed with an orchestra when nine years old. Whilst at the Moscow Conservatory, studying with Lev Naumov, Yakov Zak and Boris Zemliansky, he won the silver medal at the fifth Van Cliburn Piano Competition. While touring with the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra in Spain, he was granted asylum and moved to the USA. He toured internationally, appearing with many of the world's top orchestras, and became the Martin Endowed Professor of Piano at Indiana University South Bend. Specialising in interpreting Russian composers, he was also known for praying before each performance.

Swedish choral conductor, composer and TV personality Kjell Lönnå passed away on 10 May, aged eighty-five. Born in Smedjebacken on 13 July 1936, he was best known for hosting Swedish national TV programmes, but he was also one of the national conductors of Svenska körförbundet, the National Swedish Choir Association. As a Baptist, he composed several hymns, and at least one of them appears in Den Svenska Psalmboken - the official hymnal of the Swedish church.

Japanese pianist Minoru Nojima died in Tokyo on 9 May, aged seventy-six. Born at Yokosuka in Kanagawa on 23 May 1945, he was a child prodigy, winning a major competition in his teens, then studying in Moscow with Lev Oborin and in New York City with Abram Chasins and Constance Keene. He won second prize in the 1969 Van Cliburn Piano Competition and began performing internationally. His dislike of recordings meant that he wasn't well-known to most music lovers. One of his few recordings, Nojima Plays Liszt (Reference Recordings, 1988) was plagiarised in the Joyce Hatto scandal.

Posted 31 May 2022 by Keith Bramich




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