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October 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 October 2022. May they rest in peace.

New Zealand cellist Farquhar Wilkinson died in Blenheim NZ on 25 October, aged ninety. He was born in Oamaru on 20 April 1932 and studied at the Royal College of Music in London, where he played with Sadler's Wells Ballet before returning to New Zealand. In 1953 he joined what is now called the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, where he was principal cello from 1955 until his retirement in 1992. He was also a chamber musician and cello tutor to the New Zealand National Youth Orchestra.

Slovak composer, conductor, pianist and teacher Branislav Hronec died on 25 October, aged eighty-one. Born in Hronsek on 22 December 1940, he began playing organ when he was thirteen. He studied piano and conducting at Bratislava Conservatory, then conducting and composition with Alexander Moyzes at the Academy of Performing Arts. He founded the Braň Hronec Orchestra (which was initally called the Braň Hronec Group) in 1963, leading the ensemble at home and abroad for nearly twenty years. Later he was music director at Slovak Radio, conductor of the Czechoslovak Television Dance Orchestra and professor at the Academy of Performing Arts.

Czech conductor Libor Pešek died on 23 October, aged eighty-nine.

Russian soprano, theatre director and voice teacher Galina Pisarenko died on 23 October, aged eighty-eight. Born in Leningrad on 24 January 1934, she was an economics and foreign languages student before studying singing at the Moscow Conservatory with Nina Dorliak. She sang with Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre until 1990 and with Komische Oper Berlin (1972-76). She taught voice at Moscow Conservatory (1976-2022), where she was considered one of the best modern voice teachers. From 1994 she directed Moscow New Opera.

British flautist and children's concert presenter Atarah Ben-Tovim died from cancer on 20 October, aged eighty-two. Born in Abergavenny on 1 October 1940, she grew up in Ealing, West London, was principal flautist with the National Youth Orchestra and then principal flautist with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (from 1963-1975). She then founded Atarah's Band to try to improve children's experiences with classical music, and appeared as a guest on various British TV and radio shows. During the 1980s she had her own children's radio programme - Atarah's Music Box on BBC Radio 3 - and her own TV series - Atarah's Music on ITV.

German-American pianist Michael Ponti died in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on 17 October, aged eighty-four. Born in Freiburg on 29 October 1937, he grew up in the USA because his father was a US Diplomat, and had piano lessons with Godowsky pupil Gilmour McDonald in Washington DC. When he was eleven, Michael Ponti played both parts of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier from memory in four recitals at the Washington YMCA. Winning first prize in the 1964 Busoni Piano Competition launched his international career, which began with Bartók's Piano Concerto No 2 in Vienna with Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting, and encompassed tours in Australia, Egypt, Europe, Japan, Southern Africa and South America. A stroke in the late 1990s effectively ended his career, apart from some concerts of left-handed music.

Ukrainian conductor Yurii Kerpatenko died at some point during September or October 2022, most likely shot dead in his own home by members of the occupying Russian forces in Kherson Oblast, after he had refused to cooperate with them regarding a 1 October 2022 orchestral concert intended by the occupiers to demonstrate 'improvement of peaceful life' in Kherson. His death was first reported on 13 October 2022. Born in Kherson on 9 September 1976, Kerpatenko studied with V I Melnichenko at the Kherson School of Music, then accordion and later conducting, orchestration and instrumental science at Kyiv Conservatory. He was principal conductor of the Kherson Regional Philharmonic chamber orchestra 'Gileya' and of Mykola Kulish Music and Drama Theatre.

Catalan composer and teacher Josep Soler i Sardà died on 9 October, aged eighty-seven.

Japanese composer and pianist Toshi Ichiyanagi died on 7 October, aged eighty-nine. Born in Kobe on 4 February 1933, his composition teachers included Tomojirō Ikenouchi, Kishio Hirao and John Cage. Living in New York (1954-60), he studied at the Juilliard School and at the New School for Social Research, promoting progressive thinking, peace and justice. Back in Japan, he collaborated with the Neo-Dada Organizers and produced, in 1960, probably his most famous work, Kaiki, which combined Japanese and Western instruments. Also in the 1960s he co-founded New Direction, an avant-garde music collective, with various others, including composers Kenji Kobayashi, Takehisa Kosugi and Yuji Takahashi. Ichiyanagi won the thirty-third Suntory Music Award in 2001 and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts' John Cage Award in 2018.

Toshi Ichiyanagi (1933-2022)
Toshi Ichiyanagi (1933-2022)

French musicologist, critic, historian and violinist Jean Gallois passed away on 4 October, aged ninety-three. Born Jean Gaillard in Nevers on 30 March 1929, he published various books on music from the Baroque, Romantic, and nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He compiled a catalogue of the works of French composer Maurice Delage and won the Grand Prix Bernier from the Académie des Beaux-Arts for his biography of Chausson.

Hungarian pianist and composer Béla Szakcsi Lakatos left us on 2 October 2022, aged seventy-nine, in Budapest, where he was born on 8 July 1943. He studied piano from the age of nine, but mostly worked in the fields of jazz and gipsy jazz. He is also known for improvising jazz cadenzas for his performances of Mozart's Piano Concerto in D, K 537 (Coronation). His later studies of the works of Kurtág and Ligeti were part of his research into creating a common musical language from previously separate musical genres, and one of the results of this was the extremely successful 2008 collaborative musical A Midsummer Night's Dream, based on Shakespeare, and featuring almost every genre of world music.

Posted 9 October 2022 and last updated 12 January 2023 by Keith Bramich




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