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Conductors: April 2008 Archives

Gerhard Samuel Obituary

Gerhard Samuel

Conductor, composer Gerhard Samuel dies at 83

By Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle

Gerhard Samuel, an innovative conductor and composer who played a pre-eminent role in the musical life of the Bay Area throughout the 1960s, died Tuesday at his home in Seattle. He was 83.

During his 12-year sojourn in the Bay Area, Mr. Samuel served as music director of both the Oakland Symphony (1959-71) and the San Francisco Ballet (1961-71) and was the first music director of the Cabrillo Music Festival. He also founded and led the Oakland Chamber Orchestra and made a few guest appearances with the San Francisco Opera.

Although he was steeped in the traditional symphonic and ballet repertoire, Mr. Samuel was known chiefly for his deep engagement with contemporary music. Under his leadership, the Oakland Symphony increased its audience and acquired a national reputation for artistic daring.

Over the course of a decade, nearly one-third of the orchestra's repertoire consisted of music by 20th century composers, and in some seasons nearly every program included at least one premiere. The stylistic range was broad enough to encompass such European masters as Lutoslawski and Stockhausen and California composers like Terry Riley and Henry Brant.

Read the obituary at the SFGate website:

Montreal in New York

Kent Nagano by Hanya Chlala/Erato

Supercharged Solo Followed by a Cosmic Energy Riot

By Anthony Tommasini

That the Montreal Symphony Orchestra sounded so terrific at Carnegie Hall on Saturday night should reassure longtime admirers of this top-tier ensemble. The orchestra has had a rough few years.

In 2002 Charles Dutoit, the music director who had taken the orchestra to new realms of excellence, abruptly resigned over what he asserted were challenges to his artistic authority. In response, many players went public with stories of longstanding animosity between Mr. Dutoit and orchestra members. In 2003 it was announced that Kent Nagano would become the new music director, but not until 2006. Then in 2005, for the second time in a decade, the players went on strike, staging a five-month work stoppage.

But the musicians seem very content with Mr. Nagano, who began Saturday's program with a glowing, refined yet urgent performance of symphonic fragments from Debussy's "Martyre de St. Sébastien." This 20-minute, four-movement suite was drawn by the composer André Caplet from an elaborate score, including choruses and dance music, that Debussy composed for a play by Gabriele d'Annunzio in 1911.

Read more about this at the New York Times website: