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Maureen Forrester Obituary

Maureen Forrester, Grande Dame of Song, CBC Records, Millennium Series, PSCD2017

Maureen Forrester, opera icon, dies at 79

Revered contralto was the ultimate diva who toured
the world and sang as many as 120 concerts a year

By Ken Winters
Globe and Mail Update

Celebrated Canadian opera star Maureen Forrester has died.

With family at her bedside, the 79-year-old quietly slipped away, said her daughter Gina Dineen on Wednesday night.

Forrester was 20th-century Canada’s incarnation of the prototypical 19th-century diva. She sang incomparably, gave generously of her rare musical gifts and her worldly goods, and lived life "in the large."

Read more about this at the Globe and Mail Update website:

Alicia de Larrocha Obituary

Alicia de Larrocha

Alicia de Larrocha, Shy Virtuoso

By Stuart Isacoff
Wall Street Journal

When Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha passed away on Sept. 25 at the age of 86, it signaled the closing of an era. Ms. de Larrocha can be counted among the last representatives of a golden age of pianism, when poetry reigned and force of personality meant something other than showy display. She was incontestably one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century – with a glowing, intense tone, an infallible sense of rhythm, and an ability to bring out the individual character of any work with utter naturalness – and also one of the least demonstrative.

This was partly a matter of shyness. She dreaded public attention. "Her talent was discovered early on – her first recital was at the age of 5 – and she never went to school with other children," explains her close friend Mònica Pagès in a phone call from Barcelona, "so she had difficulty making social contact. Her late husband, pianist Juan Torra, was the only person who could help her deal with the outside world." He died in 1982, after which Ms. de Larrocha, in the traditional Spanish manner, spent a very long period in mourning.

Read more about this at the Wall Street Journal website:

Passing of a Cinncinati Icon

Erich Kunzel - Courtesy of Wolf Trap

Erich Kunzel Dies at 74

By Janelle Gelfand

An era has ended. Erich Kunzel, 74, Cincinnati's music man for more than 44 years, has died.

Orchestra members learned today that Kunzel died this morning at a hospital in Bar Harbor, Maine, near his home on Swan's Island. Information about memorial services was not immediately available. The Pops maestro is survived by his wife of 44 years, Brunhilde. The couple's homes are in Newport, Ky.; Naples, Fla.; and Swan's Island.

"The world has lost a musical giant and we have lost a dear friend," said Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra President Trey Devey in a statement released today by the orchestra. "Erich Kunzel built the Cincinnati Pops into one of the best known orchestras in the world and is not only beloved in Cincinnati, but around the globe. Today we honor his tremendous legacy and offer our deepest sympathies to Brunhilde and their entire family."

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend and colleague Erich Kunzel," said Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Music Director Paavo Järvi in the same statement. "He was a remarkable spirit and a tremendous musician. His many years of music making with the Cincinnati Pops brought joy to literally millions, and I join with our community in Cincinnati as well as his fans around the world in mourning the loss of this great musical icon."

Read more about this at the Cinncinati Enquirer website:

Pianist Geoffrey Tozer Dies


Farewell to musical prodigy Geoffrey Tozer

Obituary: Geoffrey Tozer. Pianist. Born Mussoorie, India, November 5, 1954. Died Melbourne, August 20, age 54.

By Anna Goldsworthy
The Australian

Pianist Geoffrey Tozer was one of the most gifted musicians this country has known. Born in the Indian Himalayas, he began piano lessons with his mother before moving to Australia at the age of four. A child prodigy, he gave his first public performance at age five at the St Kilda Town Hall; at eight he appeared on ABC television with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, playing Bach's Concerto in F minor. By 12 he had performed all five of Beethoven's piano concertos across Australia; two years later he was the youngest semi-finalist in history at the Leeds International Piano Competition.

In 1970, Tozer made his BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall, performing Mozart with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Colin Davis. During the following years he performed widely across Europe and the US, receiving a host of awards, including a gold medal in the Arthur Rubinstein competition in Israel in 1980 and Hungary's Liszt Centenary medallion in 1986.

Read more about this at the The Australian website:,25197,25985836-16947,00.html

Works include the Complete String Quartets of Beethoven and Bartók; Quartets by Debussy, Ravel and Dutilleux; and Collaborations with Legendary Musicians

The Juilliard String Quartet is internationally renowned and admired for performances characterized by clarity of structure, beauty of sound, purity of line and an extraordinary unanimity of purpose. Celebrated for its performances of works by composers as diverse as Beethoven, Schubert, Bartók and Elliott Carter, it has long been recognized as the quintessential American string quartet. Sony Classical has announced that its catalog of recordings by the Juilliard String Quartet is being made available for download. The Quartet has been associated with Sony since the ensemble's inception in 1946.

The releases are as follows:

  • Bartók: String Quartets Nos. 1-6
  • Beethoven: The Early String Quartets (Op. 18, Nos. 1-6)
  • Beethoven: The Middle String Quartets (Op. 59, Nos. 1-3; Opp. 74 & 95)
  • Beethoven: The Late String Quartets (Opp. 127, 130, 131, 132, 133 and 135)
  • Debussy/Ravel/Dutilleux: String Quartets
  • Great Collaborations

The Great Collaborations release includes Dvořák's Piano Quintet with Rudolf Firkušný, piano; Barber's Dover Beach with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone; Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht with Walter Trampler, viola, and Yo-Yo Ma, cello; Schumann's Piano Quintet with Leonard Bernstein, piano; Copland's Sextet for Clarinet, Piano and Strings with Aaron Copland, piano, and Harold Wright, clarinet; and Franck's Piano Quintet with Jorge Bolet, piano.

The members of the Juilliard String Quartet jointly stated, "We are thrilled that a substantial amount of our recorded legacy will now be available through the latest technology, for listeners of all ages. With Nick Eanet now joining the Quartet, we look forward to continuing our relationship with this great label."

Alex Miller, General Manager of Sony Masterworks, said, "The Quartet has a long and celebrated relationship with the label and we are delighted to begin making their remarkable and diverse catalogue available to the public digitally."

The first six recordings will include the complete string quartets of Beethoven and Bartók (the latter a Juilliard String Quartet specialty). On CDs, the Beethoven quartets comprised a total of nine discs (three three-disc sets); the Bartók quartets comprised two discs; the French collection one disc; and Great Collaborations two discs. All of the titles to be digitized have been released previously on CD; all titles also appeared on the LP format with the exception of the French disc, which was released on CD only.

Read more about this at the Sony Masterworks website:

Marlboro Festival 2009


The Music Mountain

The classical world's most coveted retreat

By Alex Ross
The New Yorker

Mitsuko Uchida, one of the world's leading classical pianists, could comfortably pass her summers flying from one festival to another, staying in luxury hotels and private villas. Instead, she stays on the campus of Marlboro College, a small liberal-arts institution in southern Vermont. Since 1951, the college has hosted Marlboro Music, an outwardly low-key summer gathering that functions variously as a chamber-music festival, a sort of finishing school for gifted young performers, and a clandestine summit for the musical intelligentsia. Uchida and the pianist Richard Goode serve as Marlboro's co-directors, alternating the lead role from year to year; last summer, when I visited three times, Uchida was in residence from late June until early August. She plays a variety of roles in the Marlboro world – high priest, den mother, provocateur, jester, and arbiter of style.

Marlboro, whose fifty-ninth session gets under way next week, is a singular phenomenon. The great Austrian-born pianist Rudolf Serkin, Marlboro's co-founder and longtime leader, once declared that he wished to "create a community, almost utopian," where artists could forget about commerce and escape into a purely musical realm. Marlboro has been compared to a kibbutz, a hippie commune, Shangri-La, a cult (but "a good cult"), Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, and George Orwell's Animal Farm, where "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." On certain lazy days, it becomes a highbrow summer camp, where brainy musicians go swimming in the local pond.

Read more about this at the New Yorker website (subscription and registration required):

Curious Timing


Krystian Zimerman's controversial appearance at Disney Hall

By Mark Swed
Los Angeles Times

In 1978, an unknown, soft-spoken, 21-year-old Polish pianist appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for its newly appointed music director, Carlo Maria Giulini, in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The performances of Chopin's two piano concertos were recorded by Deutsche Grammophon. Krystian Zimerman's eloquence went far beyond his years, and a major career was launched.

In the '80s, Zimerman became Leonard Bernstein's favorite pianist, the conductor's choice to record the Beethoven and Brahms piano concertos. In 1992, the summer before Esa-Pekka Salonen became music director of the L.A. Philharmonic, he selected Zimerman to perform with the orchestra at the Salzburg Festival.

And now, Sunday, making his Disney Hall debut in a recital sponsored by the Philharmonic, Zimerman, who has become arguably the greatest pianist of his generation, made the surprise and shocking announcement from the stage that in protest to America's military policies overseas and particularly in Poland, he would no longer perform in the United States.

Read more about this at the Los Angeles Times website:

Juilliard String Quartet by Nana Watanabe/SONY Classical

A First Goodbye to a Departing Violinist

By Steve Smith
New York Times

The Juilliard String Quartet, among the most august and respected of American chamber music institutions, began a farewell of sorts before a sizable audience at Alice Tully Hall on Tuesday night. It was no occasion for remorse: the quartet, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006, will go on. But Joel Smirnoff, the first violinist, was making one of two final appearances with the group before departing to become president at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

The configuration featured on Tuesday was not the group's original lineup: Mr. Smirnoff, who joined in 1986, became the first violinist when Robert Mann, one of the founding members, retired in 1997. Ronald Copes, the second violinist, joined at that time. Samuel Rhodes, the violist, came aboard in 1969; Joel Krosnick, the cellist, in 1974.

But this particular alignment has had more than a decade to develop its own chemistry, and it showed in occasionally rough-hewn while always authoritative and lively performances. The program opened with Mendelssohn's Quartet in E flat (Op. 12), in honor of that composer's bicentennial.

Read the complete review at the New York Times website:

Return of a Virtuoso

Leon Fleisher

Fleisher plays Mozart in two-hand concerto return

By Mike Collett-White

U.S. pianist Leon Fleisher's right hand is one of the most famous in music. In the mid-1960s the superstar of the classical music world lost the ability to play with the hand when two fingers became immobile due to a condition called focal dystonia.

After 30 years of teaching, conducting and playing music composed for the left hand, Fleisher regained the use of his right hand after treatment involving botox injections. The first recording since his rehabilitation came in 2004, and now the 80-year-old has released a recording of Mozart piano concertos including one where he performs with his wife.

Read more about this at the Reuters Canada website:

Guarneri Quartet Retiring


Guarneri String Quartet call it quits after 45 charismatic years

By Mark Stryker
Detroit Free Press

Considering that the Guarneri String Quartet formed casually one day after lunch in 1963 at the Marlboro Festival in Vermont, it's not surprising that the quartet decided to call it quits backstage right before a concert in May 2007.

The group's first violinist, Arnold Steinhardt, suggested the idea and details were finalized in about five minutes. "Somebody had to act as catalyst," says violist Michael Tree. "But it was unconsciously in the wind around us."

The Guarneri String Quartet, one of the most distinguished names in classical music, is retiring after 45 years, a remarkable run made even more majestic by the fact that it had just one personnel change in its history. As Steinhardt notes, the three founding members are all in their 70s and playing a string instrument doesn't get any easier with age.

"We started with a one-year plan and we've had a one-year plan every year for 45 years. It was time."

Read more about this at the Detroit Free Press website: