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In memoriam 2008

0 Robert Levine
in memoriam Editor's Abstract

This is Polyphonic.org’s tribute to those of our colleagues and co-workers who left us in 2008. By its nature it is almost certainly not a complete list. We apologize for any omissions, and will make corrections if you post them in the “Comments” area.

Robert Levine


Evelyn Barbirolli, age 97. English oboist with the Scottish Orchestra, the Glynebourne Festival Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra, she also was Professor of Oboe at the Royal Academy of Music and was the widow of the conductor Sir John Barbirolli.

Toshiya Eto, age 80. Japanese violinist and pedagogue, he studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and was head of the Toho Gakuen School of Music.

Joan Ingpen, age 92. English artist manager and administrator, she co-founded the Philharmonia Orchestra with Walter Legge. Artists who she managed included Georg Solti, Rudolf Kempe and Joan Sutherland, and she was credited with giving Luciano Pavarotti his big break when she hired him to cover for Giuseppi de Stefano in La Bohéme at Covent Garden. She served in senior staff positions at the Royal Opera, Paris Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera House.

Virginia Katims, age 95. American cellist who studied with Alfred Wallerstein and Emmanuel Feuermann and who soloed extensively throughout the US and Canada with the Bary Ensemble. She was the widow of violist and conductor Milton Katims.

Emma Robinson-Lundgren, age 28. Swedish violinist who had studied at the Oberlin Conservatory and the University of Kentucky. She was a graduate student at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University at the time of her apparent suicide at a local shooting range.

Robert Rogers, age 71. Professor emeritus of piano at the University of British Columbia, he had served as pianist with the Vancouver Symphony and the CBC Vancouver Orchestra.


Kenneth Kuchler, age 86. Violinist and member of the Utah Symphony for 64 years, he was also a long-time member of the orchestra of the Fish Creek Music Festival in Wisconsin and had served as chairman of the music department at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.

Jorge Liderman, age 50. Argentinian-born composer who served on the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley, he had composed operas, works for orchestra, and chamber works for various combinations. His apparent suicide occurred while he was on medical leave from UC Berkeley, one day before the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players were to premiere his chamber concerto for violin.

Florence Schoff, age 101. A former president of the Minneapolis chapter of Hadassah, she was the oldest known subscriber to the Minnesota Orchestra. She also attended the first concert of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in 1959, and was serenaded by the SPCO on the occasion of her 100th birthday.

Roger Voisin, age 89. Born in France in 1911, he became the youngest musician ever to join the Boston Symphony in 1935. He served as the principal trumpet of the BSO from 1950 to 1965, retiring from the orchestra in 1973. He also taught at the New England Conservatory, Boston University, and the Tanglewood Music Center.

Richard Westenburg, age 75. Founder of the Musica Sacra Chorus and Orchestra (New York), he studied organ and musicology at Lawrence University and the University of Minnesota before studying with Nadia Boulanger in 1959. He was best known for the annual performances of Handel’s Messiah with Musica Sacra at Carnegie Hall. He also founded and directed the Basically Bach Festival at Lincoln Center during the 1980s.


Michael Davis, age 70. English-born violinist who had served at various times as concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony, Scottish National Orchestra and Lancaster Festival Orchestra, he was also professor emeritus at the Ohio State University School of Music. He studied with Yehudi Menuhin and Max Rostal.

Felix Resnick, age 89. Violinist with the Detroit Symphony for 66 years, he joined the orchestra in 1942 and served for many years as assistant principal second violin. He also conducted several local orchestras, includind the Grosse Point Symphony and the Pontiac Smphony

Sylvia White, age 56. Violinist with the El Paso Symphony and El Paso Opera, she also worked as a music educator with the El Paso and Ysleta Independent School Districts. She also served as the ROPA delegate from the El Paso Symphony and as a member of the ROPA board.


Edouard Blitz, age 85. Founding member of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, he also had been a cellist with the Dallas and Minneapolis orchestras. (On a personal note, Eddie Blitz was one of the funniest and most dedicated musicians I’ve ever known. Eddie’s specialty was what might be called “strategic outrageousness,” especially during the dog days of a particularly long orchestra tour. He was a wonderful colleague in every way.)

Harry Chanson, age 95. Long-time president of AFM Local 308 (Santa Barbara), Chanson chaired the Finance Committee at every AFM convention since being appointed by President James Petrillo in 1955. An accordianist, he worked the Borstch Belt circuit before moving to Santa Barbara to teach and turning his hobby of boat-building into a marina business.

Michael Nutt, age 75. English-born violinist, he was a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic until his retirement in 1985. He served as ICSOM delegate from the Los Angeles Philharmonic for many years, and traditionally made the first motion at every ICSOM conference, which was to ban smoking in the meeting. After his retirement and move to Whidbey Island, he helped found the Whidbey Island Center of the Arts.

Gerhard Samuel, age 83. Born in Germany in 1924, he emigrated to the US in 1939, where he studied violin and conducting at the Eastman School. He was music director of the Oakland Symphony and the San Francisco Ballet during the 1960s, and was the first music director of the Cabrillo Music Festival. He was particularly known for his extensive programming of contemporary music.


Paul Buttemer, age 52. Canadian bassoonist who studied at the University of Toronto. He played with the National Ballet Orchestra and the Victoria Symphony. He had a highly-regarded reedmaking business and was an active competitive cyclist.

Charles Irmiter, age 55. A finance professional who spent most of his career with the Mars company, he served as Chief Financial Officer for the League of American Orchestras until February, when he took a similar position with The Seeing Eye. He also played percussion with the New Sussex Symphony and served on the orchestra’s board.

James London, age 71. A graduate of the Curtis Institute, London played horn with the New Orleans Philharmonic, the Santa Fe Opera, the National Symphony, and the Dallas Symphony, retiring from his position there as co-principal in 1999.

Kay Buchbinder Parleton, age 63. Born in Detroit, she studied violin at the Eastman School and played with the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra before joining the Dallas Symphony in 1980. An active interior decorator, she also ran her own company which reupholstered chairs.

David Reader, age 26. Principal cellist of the Augusta Symphony, he was shot to death in in his car after the final performance of his first season with the orchestra. He was a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Elisabeth Witte, age 65. A member of the Milwaukee Symphony Chorus since its founding, she also served as chorus librarian and German diction coach. A native of Germany, she was stabbed to death after an MSO/chorus concert in a nearby parking garage by her ex-husband, a retired physician.


Naomi Blumberg, age 68. A cellist with the Oregon Symphony for 38 years, Blumberg also played with the Portland Opera orchestra, taught at Portland’s Community Music Center for 40 years, and was president emeritus of the Oregon Cello Society, which she co-founded.

Travis Davison, age 58. A music teacher and banker, he studied music at UC Berkeley and business at St. Mary’s College. He was president of the board of the Oakland East Bay Symphony during its emergence from bankruptcy and shutdown in 1988. He was also co-founder and conductor of the East Bay Youth Band.

Dorothy Hall, age 52. Cellist with the BBC Philharmonic who also played as an extra with the Hallé Orchestra, she was killed with her husband Michael by an avalanche while hiking in the French Pyrenees.

Michael Hall, age 52. Violinist with the Hallé Orchestra, he graduated from the Royal Northern College in 1978. He was active in the orchestra’s educational programs and was an avid amateur mountaineer..

Charles Smith, age 88. A percussionist with the Boston Symphony for over 50 years, he toured with the original cast of “Porgy and Bess” before he auditioned for the BSO. He taught for many years at Boston University.


Ralph Burgard, age 81. The first director of the Arts Councils of American, Burgard was considered a national leader in the movement to create arts programs in American communities. He served at various times as manager of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, director of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem NC, and director of the St. Paul Council of Arts and Sciences.

Alice Chalifoux, age 100. Principal harp of the Cleveland Orchestra from 1931 to 1974, she was the only female member of the orchestra for many years. A student of Carlos Salzedo, she also taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Oberlin College, and the Salzedo Harp Colony, which she ran for over 50 years. Her students included both of her successors in the Cleveland Orchestra. Lisa Wellbaum, who retired in 2007, and Tina Struble, the current harpist.

Cheryl Gobetti Hoffman, age 54. Flutist with the Buffalo Philharmonic for many years, she was a member of the faculty of University of Buffalo music department. She studied at the Manhattan School of Music and was married to BPO cellist Monte Hoffman. She was also a poet.

Eugene Kaza, age 84. He was a violinist with the Oregon Symphony from 1957 to 1978, and also worked with the Portland Youth Philharmonic and Portland public schools. Believed by many to be the model for the hero of the film “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” he was born prematurely after bleachers collapsed at a circus performance and his father improvised an incubator from rubble.


Bruce Allard,age 63. A violinist and trumpet player, Allard was a noted Twin Cities jazz musician, freelancer and contractor. As a violinist, he was a founding member of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and played with the group until 1980, often playing trumpet with the orchestra on tour when instrumentation required.

Nicola Rescigno, age 92. American opera conductor who co-founded the Lyric Op era of Chicago, where he was music director from 1954 to 1956. He co-founded the Dallas Opera in 1957 and served as its music director until 1990. While in Dallas, he conducted the American debuts of Montserrat Caballé, Plácido Domingo, Joan Sutherland, and Jon Vickers. He also conducted the premieres of operas by Virgil Thompson and Dominick Argento.


Patrick Flynn, age 73. British-born conductor who studied conducting with Sir John Barbirolli, he had been music director of the Saginaw Bay Symphony since 2004. His career included appearances with the BBC Philharmonic, the Paris Opera, and the English National Ballet. He was also the music director of the Riverside County Philharmonic in California.

Vernon Hadley,age 77. A protégé of the English conductor Sir Adrian Boult, he served at various times as principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. He was renowned as a champion of English music and was appointed Commander of the British Empire in 2004.

Matthew Peaceman, age 52. American oboeist who spent most of his career in Europe. He joined the faculty of the Peter Cornelius Conservatory in Mainz in 1980 and became known for his expertise in historical performance practice on the oboe. He was also active in the exploration of music written by Jewish composers, and produced the Woche der jüdischen Music in Mainz in 2001.


Kenneth Baldwin, age 48. Assistant principal bassist with the Oregon Symphony since 1985, Baldwin studied at the Eastman School and also had played in the Nashville Symphony and the Grant Park Orchestra. He also taught at Portland State University and the University of Portland.

Bert Phillips,age 73. A cellist with the Philadelphia Orchestra for 31 years before retiring in 1990, he was director and co-founder of the Luzerne Music Center. He also taught and conducted at Temple University He founded chamber music series in Wallingford and Naples (FL).

Harry Taub, age 84. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, he was hired by George Szell as a section violinist in the Cleveland Orchestra in 1947. He returned to his native Buffalo as associate concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic in 1952, and retired as associate concertmaster emeritus in 2003. He was also a composer.

Mihaly Virizlay, age 76. A native of Hungary, he served as principal cellist of the Baltimore Symphony from 1962 to 2002, retiring from the orchestra in 2004. A student of Janos Starker’s in Hungary, he also played with the Chicago Symphony and the Pittsburgh Symphony, as well as teaching at the Peabody Conservatory.


Richard Hickox, age 60. English conductor who held positions at various times with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Northern Sinfonia, and the London Symphony Orchestra. He became music director of Opera Australia in 2005. He made over 300 recordings, with emphasis on English music of the 19th and early 20th century.

Jessie Levine, age 68. Principal violist at various times with the orchestras of Buffalo, Dallas, Batimore, and New Jersey, he was also music director of the New Britain and Norwalk symphonies and had taught viola and chamber music at Yale University since 1983.

Mitchell Lurie, age 86. Principal clarinet with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Chicago Symphony in the 1940s, he spent most of his career in Los Angeles. He was very active in the film scoring business and maintained a high-profile career as a chamber musician. He taught at USC for almost 50 years.

Jørn Utzon, age 90. A Danish architect, he was best known for having designed the Sydney Opera House. He was forced off the project in 1966 and never saw the completed structure.

Mark Weiger, age 49. Professor of Music at the University of Iowa, he taught oboe and chamber music. He studied at the New England Conservatory and the Juilliard School, and played with the Albany Symphony, Portland Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and Boston Pops. He had also toured extensively as a recitalist and in chamber groups, and served as interim director of the UI School of Music during the historic and devastating floods of 2008. His death, an apparent suicide, happened one week after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against him and the University of Iowa by a former student and TA.


George Steiner, age 90. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the Peabody Conservatory, he was associate concertmaster of the National Symphony before leaving for George Washington University in 1960 to found its music department. He also served as conductor of the Washington Camerata Orchestra and the Alexandria Symphony.

Brian Wightman, age 65. Bassoonist with the English National Opera and professor of bassoon at Trinity College of Music, Wightman was killed the day after his retirement from the ENO by a hit-and-run driver. Wightman was also a founding member of the London Concert Orchestra and an active amateur pilot.

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