Polyphonic’s tribute to those people important to our field who died in 2012. Please send additions or corrections to Robert Levine (rob at robertlevine.org).
Paavo Berglund, age 82. Renowned Finnish conductor best known for his performances of Sibelius, he began his career as a violinist with the Finnish Radio Symphony in 1949. At various times he served as Principal Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony, the Stockholm Philharmonic, and the Royal Danish Orchestra, as well as Music Director of the Helsinki Philharmonic.
Francesco DiBlasi, age 85. Founder and music director of the Livonia Symphony, he studied at the Detroit Institute of Musical Art, Eastern Michigan University and the Juilliard School. He was assistant principal trumpet with the Detroit Symphony for eight years, and also played with the New York City Opera orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera orchestra, and the American Symphony Orchestra. He guest-conducted orchestras in the US and Europe, among them the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the San Diego Symphony.
Gustav Leonhardt, age 83. Noted Dutch keyboard player and conductor, he was regarded as one of the pioneering figures of the historically informed performance practice movement. He studied in Basel and Vienna, where he met Nicholas Harnoncourt and began his extensive recording career. He moved back to Amsterdam in 1955 and became the organist at Waasle Kerk and the Niuewe Kerk. He founded and led the Leonhardt Consort, with which he collaborated with Harnoncourt and his group on the first complete recording of Bach’s church cantatas
John Maloy, age 81. A native of Missouri, he had a long career as a tenor with opera companies in the Germany, Austria and Switzerland before joining the faculty of the Eastman School in 1975. He received the Eisenhart Award for Excellence in Teaching from ESM in 2003 and was named Professor Emeritus upon his retirement in 2005. His students included Renée Fleming and Anthony Dean Griffey.
Alexis Weissenberg, age 82. Pianist born in Bulgaria, he and his mother left Bulgaria when it became allied with Germany in 1941. They ended up in a concentration camp which they escaped with the help of a German officer who was impressed by Weissenberg’s performance of Schubert on the accordion, ending up in Palestine, where he began his career as a solo pianist. He moved to New York and won the Leventritt Award in 1947. Although best known as a specialist in Romantic music, he also recorded the complete Beethoven concerti for piano with von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic.
Camilla Williams, age 92. A native of Virginia, she became the first African American woman to be on contract with a major American opera company. making her premiere in the New York City Opera’s first staging of Madame Butterfly in 1946. She also sang with Boston Lyric Opera and the Vienna State Opera, as well as appearing with the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as in the first complete recording of Porgy and Bess in 1950. She joined the voice faculty at Indiana University in Bloomington in 1977, where she remained until her retiremement.
Maurice André, age 78. Known internationally as the leading proponent of the trumpet as a solo instrument, he first worked as a coal miner in his teens. He joined the French army in order to cover his tuition at the Conservatoire de Paris. He began his career as a musician in several French orchestras before winning several major competitions and recording much of the Baroque trumpet repertoire and launching his solo career.
Charles Anthony, age 82. A tenor at the Metropolitan Opera, he set a company record by appearing 2,928 times in solo roles. He debuted at the Met in 1954, and his last performance was in 2010 as the Emperor in Turandot. A native of New Orleans, he was born Calogero Antonio Caruso but Anglicized his name at the urging of Rudolf Bing, Met general manager when he first auditioned there in 1952.
Aleksander Ciechanski, age 85. A member of the St. Louis Symphony cello section for over 30 years, he retired to Florida in the late 1990s and began building a large steel sailboat. He began his career in his native Poland, where he was principal cellist with the Warsaw National Philharmonic and a member of the Warsaw Piano Quartet alongside Wladyslaw Szpilman, the title character of the movie “Pianist.”
Devy Erlih, age 83. Born in Paris to Jewish immigrants from Moldava, he began his career as a violinist in his family’s café orchestra at the age of 10. He narrowly escaped deportation by the Gestapo during the war, making his London debut with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in 1946. He joined the faculty of the Paris Conservatoire in 1982. He was also a composer with the distinction of being commissioned by Rita Hayworth in 1965.
Lorin Levee, age 61. Principal clarinet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 1981, he had played with the Lyric Opera, Grant Park, and American Ballet Theater orchestras.
Grover Schiltz, age 80. English hornist with the Chicago Symphony for 46 years until his retirement in 2005, Schlitz studied at the University of Michigan before joining the US Army as a musician. Prior to being hired by CSO music director Fritz Reiner in 1959, he played in the Lyric Opera and Grant Park orchestras as well as the Kansas City Philharmonic. As well as being active in the CSO Alumni Association, he and his wife Beverly bred show dogs.
James Clute, age 78. Bassist with the Minnesota Orchestra for 46 years, many of which were as Associate Principal. A native of Iowa, Clute began his professional career with the Seventh Army Symphony in Germany. He was a labor activist for most of his career, both as frequent member of negotiating committees and as a member of the ICSOM Governing Board for many years. He was also an active teacher at several Minnesota colleges, and was awarded “Teacher of the Year” in 1988 by the Minnesota chapter of ASTA.
I had the great privilege of working with Jim for a number of years on the ICSOM Governing Board. He was a very wise man, and the best possible companion in a political fight, as he proved on numerous occasions as one of ICSOM’s delegates to AFM conventions.
Ardash Marderosian, age 81. Principal trombonist for the Lyric Opera (Chicago) Orchestra for nearly 40 years and the Grant Park Symphony for 29 years, he was born in Chicago to Armenian immigrants. He played with the Air Force Band after graduating from high school, and attended Wayne State University and the University of Illinois. He also toured extensively with American Ballet Theater and Joffrey Ballet as well as several big bands. In 1988, he was awarded a three-month joint ambassadorship by the US and Polish governments to coach opera musicians in Poland, and was thereafter a frequent coach for both the Warsaw Philharmonic and the Wielki Opera Orchestra.
Mark Flint, age 57. Noted opera conductor and former music director of the Michigan Opera Theater, Flint was a native of West Virginia. As a guest conductor, he appeared with many American opera companies. He conducted a number of premiere performances of new operas, including works by Ned Rorem and Tobias Picker.
Geoffrey Fushi, age 68. A native of North Carolina, he grew up in Chicago and began studying the violin at age 7. He began his career in the violin trade at William Lewis & Son, opening Bein & Fushi in 1976 with his business partner Robert Bein in 1976.
Brett Miller, age 25. He graduated from the Eastman School with a Tuba Performance degree in 2011, despite suffering from aplastic anemia.
Robert Bonnevie, age 77. Principal horn with the Seattle Symphony from 1967 to 1998, he was a native of Seattle who played with the US Army Band and the New Orleans Philharmonic after graduating from Curtis. At various times he also played principal horn with the Puerto Rico Symphony, the Casals Festival, the Grand Tetons Music Festival, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic.
Herbert Breslin, age 87. Best known for managing Luciano Pavarotti during his rise to superstardom, Breslin was a native of New York City. He worked as a teacher and as a speechwriter for the Chrysler Corporation before becoming a publicist whose clients, in addition to Pavarotti, included Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Joan Sutherland, Marilyn Horn, and Alicia de Larrocha.
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, age 86. Legendary German baritone and performer of lieder, he began his career as a POW after being captured by the US Army in Italy in the final days of World War II. In addition to recording vast numbers of lieder, operas, and cantatas, he wrote extensively about music.
Keith Gurry, age 66. A native of London, he studied violin at the Royal Academy of Music and played with the BBC Symphony from 1979 until his retirement in 2005. He had also played with the Royal Philharmonic and served on its board of directors for 4 years. He owned a Francesco Gaudagnini violin which was stolen from his home in October 2011 and has not yet been recovered.
Joseph Kleeman, age 82. Bassist with the St. Louis Symphony for 43 years, he also served as the assistant personnel manager. In that capacity, he worked Carl Schiebler, then SLSO personnel manager, to institute the industry’s first screened auditions in collaboration with the Boston Symphony. He originally played the trumpet until, during his service in the Air Force, he was told by a military doctor that he had to stop. He used the GI Bill to attend Indiana University in Bloomington, where he took up the bass. He joined the SLSO in 1958.
Justine LeBaron, age 65. Principal horn of the Florida Orchestra from 1974 to 2006, she was also a model for the Ford agency while still a student at SUNY Potsdam. She also taught at Florida Southern College and was active on orchestra committees. The Florida Orchestra Musicians Association has established a competition for high school musicians in her memory.
Peter Spurbeck, age 74. Principal cellist of the Memphis Symphony for 30 years, he was born in Potsdam NY and studied at Indiana University. He also taught at the University of Memphis.
Roman Totenberg, age 101. A native of Poland, he made his debut with the Warsaw Philharmonic at age 11. He studied with Carl Flesch in Berlin before moving to Paris in the 1920s and studying with George Enescu and Pierre Monteux. He made his American debut with the National Symphony in 1936 and emigrated to the US in 1938. He gave the premiere performances of concerti by Milhaud, Szymanowski and Schman. He joined the faculty of Boston University in 1961, where he taught until the end of his life.
Zvi Zeitlin, age 90. A native of what is now Belarus, his family emigrated to Palestine, where he attended Hebrew University from 1940-43, when he joined the Royal Air Force and played for Allied troops throughout the Middle East theater. He studied with Ivan Galamian and Louis Persinger at the Juilliard School after the war and made his New York debut in 1961. He performed with orchestras throughout the world as soloist, and was noted for his championship of the Schoenberg concerto. He joined the faculty of the Eastman School of Music in 1967 and had announced his intention to resign this summer. He also served on the faculty of the Music Academy of the West since 1974.
Victor Aitay, age 91. Violinist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1954 to 2003, he served as concertmaster from 1967 to 1986. A native of Hungary, he was concertmaster of the Hungarian State Opera and Philharmonic until anti-Jewish legislation barred all Jews from holding state positions. He escaped from a labor camp in the Ukraine during the way and was saved from recapture by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. Aitay left Hungary after the war, becoming concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra in 1948.
Fred Fuller, age 66. Member of the Milwaukee Symphony trumpet section from 1973 to 2005, Fuller was a native of Vermont and studied at the Hartt School and the Yale School of Music. He was an avid and highly-respected sailor and maintained the definitive web site devoted to the Pearson Vanguard sailboat, one of which he owned until it was sunk by lightning while in its slip. He was also active on negotiating committees for many years.
On a personal note, I worked with Fred on probably the toughest negotiation in the MSO’s history in 1993-94. He had the invaluable quality of becoming cooler as things got more heated, and working with him (and Liza Medina, our lead council that year), during the endgame of that negotiation was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life.
Bernard Fleshler, age 83. A member of the Buffalo Philharmonic viola section for 47 years, he and his wife Clementina, a violinist, both joined the orchestra in 1959. He played in the New Orleans Philharmonic before moving to Buffalo and the Seventh Army Symphony. During the 1980s, Fleshler developed and patented a chair-mounted hearing protection device he named the Acoustishield.
Evelyn Lear, age 86. A soprano who began her career in Europe, she appeared at the Metropolitan Opera over 90 times and became known for her performances of lead roles in Alban Berg’s Lulu and Wozzek. Born in Brooklyn, she initially studied piano and horn before attending the Juilliard School.
Louise Nippert, age 100. A native of Cincinnati, she trained as a soprano and sang with the Cincinnati Symphony. in 2009, she gave $85 million to support the Cincinnati Symphony, the Cincinnati Ballet and other local arts groups. She later donated another $10 million to the Cincinnati Symphony to support the musicians’ pension fund. In addition to being a CSO subscriber for over 70 years, she was a baseball fan and part owner of the Cincinnati Reds.
George Sartick, age 87. Long-time AFM staffer, Sartick was a native of Wisconsin who began his career as a freelance drummer, becoming an officer of the Racine (WI) local at a young age. He was hired by the legendary AFM President James C. Petrillo to work for the AFM as a traveling International Representative, from which position he retired in the early 1990s. He was brought back by AFM President Mark Massagli to serve as trustee of Local 8 in Milwaukee in early 1994 (three days before the Milwaukee Symphony went on its first-ever strike, much to his surprise), and was elected president of Local 8 when the Local emerged from trusteeship in 1996. He was then appointed trustee of Local 11-637 (Louisville) and served there for two years before being succeeded by SSD negotiator Chris Durham.
On a personal note, I served with George on the Local 8 Executive Board and learned a great deal from him about how to run a Local. Anyone who knew George had stories about him. My own favorite was during my first AFM convention in 1995. The current AFM president, Mark Massagli, who was not running for re-election, was making an impassioned (and very effective) speech about the need to raise officer salaries; the kind of speech that had the delegates cheering. But not George. I looked over to him at the end of the speech and he said “you know, Mr. Petrillo used to give speeches like that. Make ‘em laugh a little: make ‘em cry a little; worked every time.” George had seen it all.
Edward Doemland, age 74. Born in Chicago and educated at Lawrence University, Doemland played organ, piano, and percussion. He taught chemistry at West Allis High School in Milwaukee for 40 years and served on the High School Test Committee of the American Chemical Society. He appeared as an organist with the Milwaukee Symphony and played percussion with the Milwaukee Civic Orchestra and its successor, the Festival City Symphony from 1965 until his death. He was also the long-time parliamentarian of Local 8.
Donal Henahan, age 91. Music critic for the New York Times from 1967 to 1991, he was a native of Cleveland who studied at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and the Chicago School of Music after serving as a fighter pilot in the Eighth Air Force during World War II. He also wrote for the Chicago Daily News and many magazines, winning a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism in 1986.
Linda Fischer, age 56. Violinist with the Pittsburgh Symphony since 1985, she was born in Pittsburgh and studied at Indiana University. She had been a member of the Buffalo Philharmonic prior to returning to Pittsburgh.
Marvin Hamlisch, age 68. A native of New York City, he was accepted to the Juilliard School as a pianist before his seventh birthday. His first success as a composer was when his song Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows became a Top 20 hit in 1965. He was one of only eleven people to win the so-called “EGOT”: an Emmy, a Grammy, a Oscar and a Tony Award. As a composer, he was best known for the Broadway hit “A Chorus Line.” He served as Principal Pops Conductor for many orchestras, including, at various times, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the National Symphony Pops, and the Pasadena Symphony and Pops.
Ruggiero Ricci, age 94. Born in San Francisco to an mmigrant father and American-born mother, he first studied with Louis Persinger, who was also teaching Yehudi Menuhim. He made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony at age 10, moving to New York 2 years later to continue studying with Persinger. He concertized frequently during World War II as an “entertainment specialist” for the Army Air Force. Over the course of his career he made over 500 recordings, including the first recording of all of the Caprices of Paganini. He was also a noted teacher, serving at various times on the faculties of Indiana University, the Juilliard School, and the Mozarteum in Salzburg.
Neil Williams Jr., age 76. A native of Charlotte NC, he attended Duke University, where he earned both a bachelor’s and a law degree. He spent his legal career in Atlanta, where he served on many boards, including the boards of the Woodruff Arts Center and the Altanta Symphony. At various times, he also served as chair of the board of trustees of Duke University and the American Symphony Orchestra League.
George Hurst, age 86. Chief conductor of the BBC Northern Orchestra from 1958 to 1968, he was born in Scotland to immigrants and studied in Canada. He was the founder of the Bournemouth Sinfonietta and also served as principal guest conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
Dennis Kain, age 73. Timpanist with the Baltimore Symphony for over 40 years, he studied at the Eastman School, the New England Conservatory, and the Manhattan School of Music before joining the San Antonio Symphony. Before coming to Baltimore, he also played with the St. Louis Symphony. He was also an active gardener and baseball fan. A remembrance written by one of his colleagues is on the BSO website.
Carlos Moseley, age 98. A native of South Carolina and graduate of Duke University, he joined the staff of the New York Philharmonic in 1955 as press officer after five years on the staff of the University of Oklahoma. He became associate managing director of the orchestra in 1959 and managing director in 1961. During his tenure as managing director, and later president, he was involved in the orchestra’s move into Philharmonic Hall, the free summer parks concerts, the tenures of music directors Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, and Zubin Mehta, and many negotiations with the orchestra’s musicians. He retired as the orchestra’s chairman in 1985. He was also a noted pianist.
Howard Scott, age 92. A pianist and graduate of the Eastman School of Music, he was part of the team at Coumbia Records which developed the LP vinyl record in 1948. He went on to produce many classical recordings on LP, including the famous recording by Glenn Gould of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. After he left Columbia, he worked for a variety of record companies as well as serving as manager of the Rochester Philharmonic for a period during the 1970s.
Matthew Tworek, age 92. Violinist with the Buffalo Philharmonic for over 50 years, he was the last surviving orchestra member who performed at the opening of Kleinhans Music Hall in 1940. He also served as concertmaster of many Buffalo-area orchestras as well as performing with the WBEN Orchestra during the 1940s. He studied at the Eastman School and served in the US Army during World War II, seeing action at the Battle of Anzio.
Francis Burt, age 86. A protege of Boris Blacher, Burt was born in London and served in the army from 1944-48, after which he studied at Oxford and the Royal Academy of Music before moving to Berlin in 1951. He spent most of his career in Vienna, where he composed and taught at the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Wien.
Hans Werner Henze, age 86. A native of Westphalia, he was conscripted into the Wehrmacht in 1944 and captured by the British, being released in 1945. He began his career as a pianist at the Bielefeld City Theater but was soon recognized for his compositions. Prior to moving to Italy in 1953, he was ballet conductor at the Hessisches Staatstheater in Wiesbaden. His music incorporated a variety of styles, including jazz, serialism, and dodecaphony.
Kieron Moore, age 50. Principal Oboist with the London Symphony Orchestra since 1989, he was a student of Lady Evelyn Barbirolli before studying at the Royal Academy of Music. Prior to joining the LSO, he played with the Hallé Orchestra and the BBC Welsh Symphony.
Melvin Ritter, age 89. Concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony from 1961 to 1965, he was born in Cleveland and studied with Oscar Shumsky and Ivan Galamian. He formed a duo with his wife Jane, a pianist, and toured internationally for many years, as well as teaching in the St. Louis area and at Stephens College in Columbia MO.
Michel Schwalbé, age 92. A native of Poland, he studied violin in Paris with Georges Enescu and Pierre Monteux. He was hired by Herbert von Karajan to be concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic in 1957, from which he retired in 1986.
John Swallow, age 88. Principal trombonist with the New York City Ballet orchestra for over 40 years, he also played with the Utah Symphony and the Chicago Symphony. He taught at various times at the New England Conservatory, the Hartt School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. He was also known for his association with the New York Brass Quintet, of which he was a member for over 25 years.
Anna-Lise Berntsen, age 69. Norwegian soprano who began her studies at the Mozarteum in Salzburg at the age of 19, she took time off to start a family before re-starting her career in 1978. She performed with opera companies throughout Scandinavia, as well as with numerous orchestras internationally. She was a noted exponent of new music, with many Scandinavian composers writing works for her to perform.
Elliott Carter, age 103. A native New Yorker, he studied with Charles Ives while earning a bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard. He also studied with Walter Piston, Gustav Holst, and Nadia Boulanger. He won a variety of awards for his compositions, including two Pulitzers, a Grammy, the National Medal of Arts, and Commander of the Legion of Honor.
Gloria Davy, age 81. A native of Brooklyn, she became the first African-American to sing the title role of Verdi’s Aida at the Metropolitan Opera. She studied at the Juilliard School and spent most of her life as a resident of Geneva. In addition to appearances with the New York Philharmonic, the Vienna Staatsoper and Covent Garden, she taught at Indiana University from 1984 to 1997.
Justin Jones, age 60. Violinist with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Jones studied at the Royal Academy of Music and played with the London Mozart Players and the BBC Symphony Orchestra before joining the Philharmonic in 1979. He became the orchestra’s Archivist in 2011.
Christian Lardé, age 82. Noted French flutist who studied at the Paris Conservatoire, where he later served as professor of chamber music, he began his professional career as principal flute with the Irish Radio Orchestra at the age of 19. He won the Geneva International Competition two years later. He joined the faculty of the Conservatoire de Montreal in 1969.
Dave Brubeck, age 91. A native of California, he was perhaps the best-known jazz musician of the second half of the 20th century. He studied veterinary medicine in college before switching to a music major. He joined the US Army in 1942, where he played in various bands during service both in the US and in the European theater. After the war, he studied with Darius Milhaud at Mills College. He wrote and performed a number of works for orchestra with and without jazz ensemble.
Charles Rosen, age 85. Noted pianist and scholar who won the National Book Award in 1972 for his influential book “The Classical Style,” he was a native of Manhattan who began studies at the Juilliard School at age 7. After private study with Moritz Rosenthal (a student of Liszt), he attended Princeton University, where he received undergraduate and graduate degrees in French literature. He taught French at MIT before beginning a long and distinguished career as a recitalist, soloist, and recording artist. He also served as professor of music and social thought at the University of Chicago. In February 2012 he was awarded a National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.
David Tigner, age 61. A native of Santa Rosa CA, he studied voice at Pacific Union College before joining the San Francisco Opera. He also performed as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, the London Symphony, and the Oakland and Sacramento orchestras, as well as with the Santa Fe Opera and Chicago Lyric Opera. He was well-known as a teacher in the Bay Area, spending 27 years as instructor with the Young Musician’s Program at UC Berkeley.
Galina Vishnevskaya, age 86. Renowned Russian soprano and the widow of Mstislav Rostropovich, she was a leading soprano at the Bolshoi Theater, where she performed over 30 roles. in 1978, she and Rostropovich were stripped of their citizenships while traveling abroad. She was a native of St. Petersburg and survived the Nazi siege of the city (then called Leningrad) before beginning her career in 1944 with the Leningrad Operetta Theater.