Frans Brüggen,who has died aged 79, was a Dutch recorder player, conductor and musicologist who brought the recorder out of the classroom and into the concert hall as a serious musical instrument.
In his early days he would play anything that he felt might sound good on the recorder — “which included, for better or worse, [tunes from] symphonies by Tchaikovsky and Beethoven”.
Later Brüggen explored more carefully how the instrument was used in the baroque era, while pushing for its acceptance as a modern instrument — including commissioning works from composers such as Louis Andriessen and Luciano Berio (notably Gesti, which tests the performer’s powers of control and interpretation). Indeed, Berio once described Brüggen as “a musician who is not an archaeologist but a great artist”.
Along the way Brüggen founded the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, spearheading the move away from the luscious accounts of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven that had become popular in the first half of the 20th century and towards a realisation of how the music would have sounded during the composers’ lifetimes.

(I just have to laugh at the crossed legs!)

Maestro Maazel’s website

Lorin Maazel, a former child prodigy who went on to hold the music directorships of the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Vienna State Opera and several other ensembles and companies around the world, and who was known for his incisive and sometimes extreme interpretations, died on Sunday at his home in Castleton, Va. He was 84.


The Guardian

Wall Street Journal

Julius Rudel, the Austrian-born conductor who raised the New York City Opera to a venturous golden age with highbrow music for the masses and a repertory that, like him, bridged the Old and New Worlds, died on Thursday at his home in New York. He was 93.

His death, announced by his son Anthony, came eight months after his beloved and financially struggling City Opera filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors.

“I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would outlive the company,” he told The New York Times shortly afterward.

Mr. Rudel was the maestro and the impresario, the principal conductor and the director of City Opera for 22 years (1957-79), working in the orchestra pit while running the company on shoestring budgets, signing contracts, casting productions and nurturing young singers like José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes and Beverly Sills.

Continue reading the main story

Julius Rudel, the former general director and principal conductor of the New York City Opera, at his home on Central Park West.Music: Julius Rudel, Still Keeping Tabs on City OperaMARCH 17, 2010
A Jewish Viennese refugee from Hitler who fled to New York with his family in 1938, he joined the company in 1944, soon after its inception. He went on to preside over sweeping changes, reflecting his belief that the company should emphasize contemporary and American operas and musicals alongside the traditional European repertory — that it should entertain the wider public and not just opera lovers.


The widely admired Spanish conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos died this morning in Pamplona, Spain at age 80. It was just a week ago that Frühbeck acknowledged he was ill with cancer and announced, via the Boston Symphony Orchestra, that he would have to cease working.


25. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Losses

I learned yesterday that David Weiss has died. I heard him play musical saw last year at the IDRS, and he and I had conversed a bit via email due to this website. He will be missed. I send my sympathies to his family as they deal with this sudden shock. He was far too young ….

A rather young Mr. Weiss with the L.A. Philharmonic (1979):

A bit later, playing Telemann:

From the YouTube page:
David Weiss, Oboe. Izabela Spiewak, Violin.
Alpha Walker, Piano. Yang Xi, Viola
live performance from the tour of ” Two duo and a Saw ” in NY,

Here he is on the saw:

From the YouTube page:
Astor Piazzolla’s OBLIVION arranged for musical saw, flute, bassoon, and piano by Alpha H. Walker. Performed live by the Weiss Family Woodwinds: David Wiess, oboe and musical saw, Dawn Weiss, flute, Abe Weiss, bassoon, and Alpha H. Walker, piano.

And finally …

2011 – Tribute to David Weiss from Christopher Allport on Vimeo.

07. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Losses

I just read that John Shirley-Quirk died today. I don’t yet see any articles about this.

Here is an interview with him from 2013.

One of my favorite songs:

Silent Noon ( D Rossetti)
Ralph Vaughan Williams (House of Life Song Cycle No.2)
John Shirley Quirk (baritone)
Martin Isepp (piano)

… and then there’s this:

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Cantata BWV 82 “Ich habe genug”
0:00 1. Arie ‘Ich habe genug’
9:42 2. Rezitativ ‘Ich habe genug’
11:12 3. Arie ‘Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen’
22:25 4. Rezitativ ‘Mein Gott! wann kommt das schone: Nun!’
23:25 5. Arie ‘Ich freue mich auf meinen Tod’

John Shirley-Quirk, bass
Roger Lord, oboe
George Malcolm, organ continu
Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields
Conducted by Neville Marriner

06. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Losses

I wasn’t familiar with the name, but Paul Salamunovich was a conductor and you can read about him here

Here’s another fascinating story:

“I approached his bed,” Dr. Lauridsen remembers, “and whispered in his ear, ‘Paul, your composer is here. Please wake up so you can conduct the O Magnum Mysterium and Lux Aeterna again.’ “

“When I said those words, and each time I mentioned the names of those pieces that I had written for him that he premiered and recorded with the LA Master Chorale, his right arm went up (still attached to tubes) and his hand began waving in the air, as if he were conducting these pieces. The very mention of those works caused him to physically respond even while in a deep coma.”

“It was a profound and magical moment that I, his wife Dottie and the attending nurse will never forget.”

I read it here.

Wow. I need to remember that even someone who appears not to hear a thing just might be understanding me. I wish I had thought of that when my father and mother were in their last days.

12. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Losses

For 40 years, Ray Still was the principal oboe for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Ray passed away overnight, just hours after turning 94.

I read it here.

09. March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Losses

Gerard Mortier, a visionary opera company leader whose bold theatricality and updatings of the canon helped define the art form’s modern history, died on Saturday at his home in Brussels. He was 70.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, said Simon Bauwens, Mr. Mortier’s personal assistant at the Teatro Real in Madrid. Mr. Mortier was that company’s artistic director from 2009 until last year, when his title was changed to artistic adviser in a tussle with the Spanish government over his successor after he announced in September that he was being treated for cancer.

It was a characteristically feisty situation for a man who relished a battle during a four-decade career at the helm of some of the world’s most important opera companies, including the Salzburg Festival. and the Paris Opera.


15. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Losses, Opera, Videos

I hadn’t heard until now that Sid Caesar died on the twelfth.

From the YouTube page:
[From "Kovacs Corner" on] – First telecast on “Caesar’s Hour” on October 10, 1955 over NBC, this kinescoped sketch is a take-off on the Italian opera “Pagliacci” by Ruggero Leoncavallo. Sid plays the role of “Gallipacci” (“Canio” in the real opera) an actor in a traveling Italian comedia dell’arte troupe during the late 19th century. His wife “Rosa” (“Nedda” in tha actual opera), who is played by singer and comedienne Nanette Fabray, falls in love with fellow actor “Emilio” (the opera’s “Silvio” character), performed by Carl Reiner, and they make plans to elope. Sid sings a rendition of songs in a jibberish Italian dialect which he picked up in his youth from waiting tables at his father’s 24-hour blue-collar diner in Yonkers, New York. Straying off of the real opera’s musical score just a bit, we hear hilariously bastardized renditions of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, Cole Porter’s “Begin The Beguine”, and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” among others. Howie Morris (Ernest T. Bass from “The Andy Griffith Show”) is “Vesuvio” (whose real opera character is “Tonio”) and he performs a parody song and dance rountine to the tune “If I Know What You Know”. In one of the most famous “saves” in the history of live television, Sid was supposed to paint a teardrop on his cheek when the mascara pencil broke at the beginning of his nonsense rendition of “Just One of Those Things”. Not breaking his stride, Sid proceeds to pick up one of Nanette’s lip brushes and paints an unscripted tic-tac-toe board on his face. The grand finale concluded with a variation of the song “The Yellow Rose of Texas” after Gallipacci takes care of the situation along the lines of a Mafia hit. Also, in the early days of live television, one time “specials” which pre-empted regular series programs were initially called “spectaculars”. Listen for a young Don Pardo introducing the sketch.