Robert Levine  

In memoriam 2009

Robert Levine
January 4, 2019


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.

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