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January 2023 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 January 2023. May they rest in peace.

American bass Daniel Lewis Williams died due to complications from Alzheimer's disease in January, aged seventy-three. Born in approximately 1949, he grew up in Billings, Montana and his first appearances on stage were as a boy soprano. He studied theatre at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and then at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Munich with Kurt Böhme, Ernst Haefliger and Kurt Moll, and began his career in Germany, becoming the regular bass at Düsseldorf's Deutsche Oper am Rhein and enjoying an international career which encompassed Europe, Japan and the USA.

French pianist and teacher Gabriel Tacchino died on 29 January, aged eighty-eight. Born on 4 August 1934 in Cannes, he studied with Jacques Février and Marguerite Long at the Paris Conservatoire, and also with Francis Poulenc, giving him a greater insight into Poulenc's music than most other pianists. Later he recorded Poulenc's complete piano music, reissued by EMI in 2005. After winning a series of prizes early in his career, Herbert von Karajan began asking him to play with orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic. During his career he appeared with many orchestras, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, l'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, l'Orchestre National de France, l'Orchestre de Paris and the Philharmonia Orchestra. He also played chamber music, performed solo, held masterclasses and taught at the Paris Conservatoire, the Schola Cantorum in Paris and in Salzburg and Tokyo.

Russian pianist Evgeny Mogilevsky died suddenly on 28 January, aged seventy-seven. Born on 16 September 1945, he grew up in Odesa, Ukraine, where he studied at the Stolyarsky Music School, then at the Moscow Conservatory. At eighteen he won the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. His career included international appearances, including in the USA and on tours with Yevgeny Svetlanov and the USSR State Symphony Orchestra. From 1992 he taught at the Brussels Conservatory. His sons Maxim and Alexander Mogilevsky also became pianists.

British countertenor, conductor and teacher John York Skinner died on 27 January, following a short illness.

Russian composer and pianist Zhanna Pliyeva died on 22 January, aged seventy-three. Born in Tskhinvali in Southern Ossetia on 10 February 1949, she studied piano with Dmitry Svetozarov and composition with Alexander Mnatsakanian at the Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory in Leningrad. Before working full-time as a composer from 1990, she was an assistant to Sergey Slonimsky and then an orchestral musician, researcher and teacher. She was director of the Tskhinvali School of Music (1979-1985).

American composer, pianist, teacher and writer Easley Blackwood Jr died on 22 January, aged eighty-nine.

American violinist Michaela Paetsch died in a hospital in Bern, Switzerland on 20 January, aged sixty-one. Born into a large musical family in Colorado Springs on 21 November 1961, she studied initially with her parents from the age of three and made her debut as a soloist, aged eleven, with the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. Later she studied with Ivan Galamian, Szymon Goldberg and at the Curtis Institute. Her career included performing in the world's musical centres with major orchestras and as a recitalist and chamber musician. She also recorded for the Arsis, Arte Nova (BMG), Sony Classical, Teldec and Tudor record labels.

Young French baritone Loïc Guguen died on 20 January, following a long illness. Born in 1977, he studied with Rachel Yakar and in London with Laura Sarti at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, graduating in 2006. In the same year, he sang the title role in Verdi's Simon Boccanegra in London and also sang at Glyndebourne. From 2017 he was part of the ensemble at l'Opéra de Paris.

Mexican composer and pianist Victor Rasgado died on 18 January, aged sixty-three. Born in Mexico City in 1959, he studied in Mexico, Milan and Siena. His opera Anacleto Morones won a prize in the Premio Orpheus for new chamber operas, and was first performed in Spoleto. He also wrote Revontulet, a fantasia for piano, percussion and instrumental ensemble, the children's opera El conejo y el coyote and Revuelos for trumpet, piano, double bass and percussion.

German composer, conductor and musicologist Clytus Gottwald died on 18 January, aged ninety-seven. Born in Ober Salzbrunn on 20 November 1925, he studied voice and choral conducting after World War II, and worked as a choir director. Later he studied musicology, sociology and Protestant theology in Frankfurt and Tübingen, researching the Renaissance composer Johannes Ghiselin. During his career he edited many catalogues of music manuscripts. He also founded the professional vocal ensemble Schola Cantorum Stuttgart and directed it in a series of first performances, including music written for the group by Boulez, Ferneyhough, Ligeti, Penderecki, Reich and others.

Georgian pianist and teacher Manana Doijashvili died on 17 January, aged seventy-five. Born on 5 November 1947, she studied with Tengiz Amirejibi at the Tbilisi State Conservatory, won competitions, and later became rector of Tbilisi State Conservatory. She was the founder of the Tbilisi International Piano Competition and served on the juries of various other competitions, including the Aram Khachaturian Competition, the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition, the Horovitz Competition, the Rhodes International Piano Competition and the Sydney International Piano Competition.

American violinist and teacher Charles Treger died at his home in Avon, Connecticut on 12 January, aged eighty-seven. Born in Detroit, Michigan on 13 May 1935, he learnt the violin from the age of seven, at eleven played Wieniawski's Violin Concerto No 2 in public, and at sixteen joined the violins of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. His teachers included William Engels, William Kroll, Szymon Goldberg and Ivan Galamian. He played the 1723 'Hartmann' Stradivarius. In 1962 he won first prize in the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poland - the first and only American to achieve this, and notable also because it was during the Cold War. Later he toured Poland on five different occasions. He had a performing repertoire of fifty violin concertos, and he also toured with Andre Watts as the Treger-Watts duo, was a founding member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and taught in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York and Wisconsin.

Chinese composer, conductor, lecturer, journalist and musical ambassador Doming Lam died on 11 January, aged ninety-six. Born in Macau on 5 August 1926, Doming Ngok-pui Lam studied music in Toronto and Los Angeles. He spent much time travelling internationally to conferences, festivals, rostrums, seminars and workshops, to keep his knowledge of the music world up-to-date. Based in Hong Kong, he worked hard to promote music exchanges internationally, and to protect performing rights. His modern Chinese compositions built on traditional roots using avant-garde techniques, influencing younger composers and many of his contemporaries. Read a review of a Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra concert involving Doming Lam's music.

Spanish composer and teacher José Evangelista died on 10 January, aged seventy-nine.

Norwegian organist and choral conductor Magnar Mangersnes died on 9 January, aged eighty-four. Born in Radøy on 31 October 1938, he studied at the Bergen Musikkonservatorium and became Organist and Master of the Choristers at Bergen Cathedral in 1971. During the same year he established and conducted the award-winning choir Bergen Domkantori. He also conducted various other choirs in the region.

Japanese composer Yoriaki Matsudaira died from pneumonia on 9 January, aged ninety-one, in Tokyo. Born in the same city on 27 March 1931, he was self-taught as a composer and mixed Japanese traditional music with Western elements. Although he mainly wrote chamber music, he also composed the 1960 opera Sara and his output also included electronic music, incidental music, jazz and orchestral music. He was also an academic scientist, and taught biology and physics at Rikkyo University in Tokyo.

German conductor and composer Siegfried Kurz died on 8 January, aged ninety-two. Born in Dresden on 18 July 1930, he studied composition, orchestral conducting and trumpet at the Dresden Academy of Music and Theatre, and began his career as a trumpeter. Later, conducting an extremely broad repertoire, he was an important personality on the Dresden music scene as conductor of Dresden Staatsoper and Staatskapelle. As a composer, he mostly wrote for orchestra, first in a rather playful neoclassical style, and later veering towards Bartók and serialism.

Greek composer, guitarist, columnist, radio producer, songwriter and teacher Notis Mavroudis died after falling three metres from the roof of his home in Koukourava, Makrinítsa on 3 January, aged seventy-seven. Born in Athens on 16 July 1945, he lived for the first two years of his life in prison - his mother was a political prisoner after the Greek Civil War. He began guitar lessons with Dimitris Fampas at the National Conservatory of Athens and then moved to Italy in 1970, teaching guitar at the Scuola Civica di Milano until 1975. Back in Greece in 1975, he taught guitar at the National Conservatory in Athens, and over the next few years, took part in festivals in East Berlin, Cuba and Hungary. He also performed in Austria and Switzerland, and recorded extensively. He founded and directed the Greek music magazine TaR, which metamorphosed into a digital version in 2006 in collaboration with guitarist and composer Kostas Grigoreas.

Notis Mavroudis (1945-2023)
Notis Mavroudis (1945-2023)

German stage director Kurt Horres died on 2 January, aged ninety. Born in Düsseldorf on 28 November 1932, he studied in Cologne and then at the Robert Schumann Conservatory in Düsseldorf. He worked at the Komische Oper Berlin and then was general director of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, as well as working as a freelance stage director, mostly of opera.

Kurt Horres (1932-2023). Photo © Eduard Straub
Kurt Horres (1932-2023). Photo © Eduard Straub

British composer and teacher Andrew Downes died on 2 January, aged seventy-two.

Posted 4 January 2023 and last updated 14 March 2023 by Keith Bramich



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