This is Polyphonic.org’s tribute to those of our colleagues and co-workers who left us in 2009. 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.
Betty Freeman, age 87. Noted patron to contemporary composers, she commissioned works from some 80 composers, including John Cage, Philip Glass, Pierre Boulez, and Harry Partch. John Adams’ Nixon in China was dedicated to her.
W. Randolph Adams, age 64. After a career spent in private-sector finance, he served as president and executive director of the Saint Louis Symphony from 2001 to 2007, during which period he helped increase the orchestra’s endowment from $18 million to $125 million.
Veronika Dudarova, age 92. Chief conductor and artistic director of the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra from 1960 to 1989, she founded the Symphony Orchestra of Russia in 1991.
Ron Bauers, age 60. A former guitarist and union officer, he returned to school to earn an MBA in accounting, leading to second career as a nationally-recognized expert in orchestra finances, in which role he provided invaluable assistance to orchestra musicians and AFM locals in collective bargaining.
Irving Bush, age 68. Member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic trumpet section from 1962 until his retirement in 1995, he also served as the orchestra’s personnel management beginning in 1982, as well as playing on many film scores, consulting for several trumpet manufacturers, and serving on the Executive Board of Local 47.
Charles Veal, Jr., age 57. A student of Jascha Heifetz at USC, he went on to make his Carnegie Hall debut in 1975 and became an active LA freelancer. He coached Minister Louis Farrakhan, who played at his memorial service.
Arthur Weisberg, age 77. Former principal bassoon of the Houston and Baltimore symphonies, Symphony of the Air, and second bassoon of The Cleveland Orchestra, he was a prolific composer and taught at Juilliard, SUNY–Stony Brook, Yale, and Indiana University.
Lukas Foss, age 86. Eclectic composer and one-time music director of the Milwaukee Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and Brooklyn Philharmonic, Foss was a native of Germany, where he began his career as a child prodigy pianist and composer.
Mario Duschenes, age 85. Former principal flutist of the CBC Radio Orchestra in Montreal and music director of the Newfoundland Symphony, he was best known for conducting educational concerts with Canada’s leading orchestras. He was a native of Hamburg and studied at the Geneva Conservatory before emigrating to Canada in 1948.
Gerry Niewood, age 64. Saxophonist who had toured with Simon and Garfunkel and Liza Minelli, he was traveling to Buffalo to play with the Buffalo Philharmonic and Chuck Mangione when he was killed in the crash of Continental Flight 3407.
Coleman Mellet, 33. Guitarist for Chuck Mangione’s band, he too was traveling to Buffalo on Continental Flight 3407.
Mason Jones, age 90. Former principal horn of the Philadelphia Orchestra, he graduated from the Curtis Institute in 1938. He returned to the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1946 as principal horn after a wartime stint in the Marine Band. He served as the orchestra’s personnel manager for many years in addition to being principal horn, and was a member of the Curtis faculty from 1946 to 1995.
Kenneth Harper, age 46. Assistant principal bassist of the Colorado Symphony, he had also performed with the Houston Symphony, New Orleans Symphony, and Grand Tetons Music Festival.
Russell Peck, age 64. Composer best known for “The Thrill of the Orchestra,” a work for orchestra and narrator often programmed in educational concerts to demonstrate the various sections of the orchestra. He was a native of Detroit, received his doctorate from the University of Michigan, and had been at one time Ford Foundation Composer-in-Residence at the Indianapolis Symphony.
Henry Shaw, age 90. Violinist with the Cincinnati Symphony for 47 years, he also served as editor of the ICSOM newsletter Senza Sordino for 10 years. Born to Ukrainian parents in Glasgow, he served on panels for the NEA.
Alexander Lepak, age 88. Timpanist of the Hartford Symphony for 56 years, he was inducted into the Percussion Hall of Fame in 1997. As well as performing on many TV and film soundtracks, he taught at the Hartt School, composed, and wrote several standard texts on timpani playing.
Steven Witser, age 48. Principal trombonist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2007, he had previously been assistant principal trombonist with The Cleveland Orchestra as well as assistant personnel manager. He had also played with the Honolulu Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony, and the Santa Fe Opera orchestra, and had taught at the Eastman School and the Oberlin Conservatory.
Robert Danziger, age 64. Principal bassoonist of the Modesto Symphony, he was on the faculty of CSU – Stanislaus.
Peter Shelton, age 54. Long-time assistant principal cellist with the San Francisco Symphony, Shelton joined the orchestra while still a graduate student at San Francisco Conservatory. A native of Livermore, he was very active in the Bay Area chamber music scene.
Joseph “Sam” Sciacchitano, age 96. Cellist with the Chicago Symphony for 22 years, he had also played with the Indianapolis Symphony and as principal cello with the Milwaukee Symphony prior to returning to the Chicago Symphony in 1961. He also taught at Northwestern and DePaul Universities and was a friend of the Frank Lloyd Wright, who he met in 1937 while performing at Taliesen
, age 71. A founding member of the Milwaukee Symphony, Clark began his career at age 16 as a violinist with the Waukesha Symphony. He was an active ham operator, serving as coordinator for the Amateur Radio Emergency Service for the National Weather Service in Milwaukee.
Michael Levin, age 58. Formerly assistant concertmaster of the North Carolina Symphony, Levin joined the Metropolitan Opera orchestra in 1987. He also served as concertmaster of the Glimmerglass Opera orchestra and had participated in a number of summer music festivals.
Edmond Basson, age 75. Long-time assistant principal cellist with the Atlanta Symphony, he had held the same position with the Pittsburgh Symphony. He did not take up the cello until he was 15, and was admitted to Juilliard less than 3 years later. He developed a system of ceramic inserts in the notches of the bridge to improve the sound of the cello.
Max Tapper, age 64. CEO of the Toronto Symphony from 1991 to 1995, he had previously served in the same position with the Winnipeg Symphony, where he helped design and organize the Winnipeg New Music Festival. He began his management career as development director for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
Silvio Barbato, age 50. Music Director of the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro and the Brasilia National Theatre Symphony Orchestra, Barbato was on Air France Flight 447 which crashed in the South Atlantic. He was born in Italy but emigrated with his family to Brazil at the age of 11. He conducted the concert at the reopening of the Teatro Amazonas in Manaus in 1990, an event marked both by protests and international reviews.
Lawrence Granger, age 57. A cellist with the San Francisco Symphony since 1979, he had also played with the Oakland Symphony and San Francisco Ballet orchestra. He studied with Bonnie Hampton and Michael Grebanier, and had taught at California State University – Hayward since 1990, where he did his undergraduate studies in aeronautics.
David Bartolotta, age 61. Bassoonist with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, he also played frequently with the San Franciso Opera orchestra. A native of Jacksonville Fl and a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory, he was a recognized expert on mushrooms, a noted cook, and a member of the Mycological Society of San Francisco. He was killed in an automobile accident with a friend he was visiting in North Carolina.
Robert Korda, age 68. A violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1960 to 1980, he was an active LA freelancer.
Sir Edward Downes, age 85. Former principal conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, he began his career at the Royal Opera House in 1952 as a prompter and went on to conduct almost 1,000 performances over 50 years. As music director of the Australian Opera, he conducted opening night at the Sydney Opera House. He and his wife committed suicide at a Zurich clinic run by the assisted suicide group Dignitas, igniting a debate in Britain over assisted suicides.
Ernst Katz, age 95. Music Director of the Jr. Philharmonic Orchestra of California for seven decades, he was president of the Golden Hat and Cape Company, a company founded by his father that served the film industry, for many years, and worked as a composer in Hollywood during the Depression. He started what became the Jr. Philharmonic in 1937 in his living room with four student musicians.
Abe Torchinsky, age 89. Tubist for the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1949 to 1973, he had previously played with the National Symphony Orchestra and the NBC Symphony, as well as for the Broadway premieres of Carousel and Allegro. He originated the ICSOM Emeritus program, which is now named after him.
Eriks Klavins, age 64. Long-time principal second violinist of the Milwaukee Symphony, he was born in a refugee camp in Germany in 1945 to Latvian parents, and grew up in Australia. He was a noted raconteur and limerickist.
Louis Rosenblatt, age 81. A native of Philadelphia, he played English horn with the Philadelphia Orchestra for 36 years, and also taught at Temple University and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. He began his career as principal oboe with the US Army Field Band, and played English horn with the Houston Symphony and the New Orleans Symphony before returning to Philadelphia as assistant principal oboe in 1959.
Geoffrey Tozer, age 54. Born in the Indian Himalayas, he began piano studies with his mother at the age of 4. debuted with the Melbourne Symphony at age 8, and was the youngest semi-finalist in the history of the Leeds International Piano Competition at age 14. His inability to make a living in Australia, despite his international successes, inspired the foundation of the Australian Artists Creative Fellowships.
Philip Blum, age 77. A cellist with the Chicago Symphony for 54 years, he was a native of Chicago, studied at the Eastman School, and played in the Rochester Philharmonic and the US Marine Corps Band (as a cornetist) before joining the CSO in 1955. He played with the CSO until a few weeks before his death from non-Hodgekin’s lymphoma.
Fred Mills, age 74. A member of the Canadian Brass for 24 years, Mills was a founding member of the American Symphony Orchestra, principal trumpet for the New York City Opera orchestra, and had also played with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the New York City Ballet orchestra. He joined the faculty of the University of Georgia in 1996, and was returning from an overseas tour when he was killed in a auto accident on the way home from the Atlanta airport.
Leon Kirchner, age 90. Prominent American composer who taught at Harvard University from 1961 to 1991, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his third string quartet.
Alicia de Larrocha, age 86. Renowned Spanish pianist, she made her debut at the age of 5 at the Barcelona International Exposition and had a professional career spanning 75 years. Four of her recordings won Grammies.
Wilma Cozart Fine, age 82. One of the first women record producers, she ran the classical division of Mercury Records in the 1950s with her husband, C. Robert Fine. She made recordings with Rafael Kubelik, Antal Dorati, Sir John Barbirolli, and the Chicago and Detroit symphonies which were acclaimed for their audio quality. She began her career as a staffer with the Dallas Symphony working for Antal Dorati.
Karen Adrian, age 65. A flutist with the Fort Worth Symphony for over 30 years, she taught at Texas Christian University. She studied at Indiana University, where she became the first flutist to receive the Performer’s Certificate.
Kurt Loebel, age 87. A native of Vienna, he was a violinist with The Cleveland Orchestra for 50 years. He also played for the Dallas Symphony. He was an orchestra activist and, after his retirement, he worked as a volunteer archivist for the orchestra.
Louis Williamson, age 62. President of Local 247 (Victoria BC) since 1995, he was also a member of the Executive Board of the AFM Canadian Conference, and often performed with the Victoria Symphony as a percussionist and jazz drummer. He was a native of Scotland and began his musical career in the military.
Marylou Speaker Churchill, age 64. Principal second violinist with the Boston Symphony from 1977 to 2000, she joined the orchestra as a section violinist in 1970. Originally from Oregon, she taught at the New England Conservatory from 1981 and coached for the New World Symphony, the Asian Youth Symphony, and El Sistema.
Mark White, age 59. Stagehand with the Atlanta Symphony from 1983 until 1997, he and his wife founded Atlanta Parent magazine, where he worked as co-publisher and business manager.
Bette Waddington, age 88. Violinist with the Saint Louis Symphony for 37 years until her retirement in 1995, she had previously played in orchestras in Erie and Dallas. She and her sister Beabout were born in San Francisco and were hired in St. Louis at the same time.
Victor Alpert, age 91. Librarian with the Boston Symphony for 34 years, Alpert was a graduate of the New England Conservatory and switched to viola while working as a violinist for the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. He played with the Indianapolis and Minneapolis symphonies, as well as the Radio City Music Hall orchestra, before joining the BSO in 1953. He was one of the founders of the Major Orchestra Librarians Association (MOLA).
. Controller for the American Federation of Musicians.