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John Cage



William Gedney Photographs and Writings


Type: Photographs

Box Number: 79

Negative Number: 5975-35


Exposure: 1967

Year: 1967

Print: 1968



Gedney, William Gale, 1932-1989


Mark: Stamp

Subject: Cage, John

Item Number: CM0009


Duke University



















Harry Newstone, conductor

born June 21 1921; died April 16 2006


Newstone on the podium:

he used his harmonica playing skills

to introduce new pieces to audiences


Photograph: Tully Potter Archive



Harry Newstone

Gifted conductor who balanced instruments

to produce a classical orchestral sound


Tully Potter        The Guardian        p. 36

Thursday May 11, 2006

























classical music        UK










classical music        USA










classical recording industry        UK










classical fans        UK










contemporary classical music        UK












composer        USA










black composers        USA









classical composer        UK










contemporary composers        USA










early music








English music > Meredith Davies    1922-2005










Baroque music








a piece of music




















the BBC symphony orchestra

































































conductor        UK / USA
















James Anderson DePreist        USA        1936-2013


Even in the motorized wheelchair

he rode to the podium,

or seated on the low swivel chair

from which he conducted,

James DePreist

cut an imposing figure,

one that usually got the best

from the orchestras he led

— whether major ensembles

like the New York Philharmonic

and the Oregon Symphony,

or student groups at the Juilliard School,

where he was director

of conducting and orchestral studies

for seven years.










Stephen Anthony Simon        USA        1937-2013


Mr. Simon (...)

was known in particular

for bringing long-neglected

operas and oratorios

by George Frideric Handel

to American audiences,

demonstrating that there was

far more to the composer

than the “Water Music”

and the “Messiah.”










conductor > James Levine        USA
















conductor > John Eliot Gardiner        UK










maestro / conductor > Simon Rattle        UK / USA

















conducting        USA










baton        UK / USA

















finely conducted by Jurowski

and exquisitely played























chamber musician








chamber orchestra








orchestral details


















at the Proms








London Symphony Orchestra        LSO










Gustav Holst    1874-1934


Gustav-Holsts-trombone-made-sheep-lamb-early-archives-show.html  - 24 July 2009








Clement Attlee lays the foundation-stone of the South Bank concert hall        13.10.1949










impresario        USA






















learn an instrument













































prepared piano





piano piece





play the piano





pianist        UK / USA








Claude Frank        USA        1925-2014


American pianist (...),

widely admired

for his insightful,

sensitive performances

of the solo and chamber works

of the Germanic masters,

and an influential teacher

to generations of pianists






Charles Rosen, pianist and writer        UK        1927-2012






organist        USA






McNeil Robinson II        USA        1943-2015

acclaimed organist, composer and teacher





















harp        USA





















double bass

































cello        USA










cellist        USA


































clarinettst > Kalmen Opperman        USA        1919-2010











trumpeter        USA











clarinet solo





horn soloist        USA






horn player        USA






French horn        USA






Scottish bagpipe





bagpiper        USA






tuba        USA






bassoon player















finger hole























guitar        USA










classical guitarist        USA




















 The violinist David Nadien in the mid-1960s.


Photograph: Bob Greene


David Nadien, Philharmonic Concertmaster, Is Dead at 88


JUNE 8, 2014



























string quartet > Juilliard String Quartet        USA











principal viola of the Philharmonia Orchestra





violin        USA






Antonio Stradivari's violins > Stradivarius        UK / USA














violinist        USA






David Nadien    1926-2014        USA



whose appointment

as concertmaster

of the New York Philharmonic

raised eyebrows

because of his thriving career

as a studio musician






Zvi Zeitlin        1922-2012


internationally renowned violinist

known for interpreting

the work of contemporary composers











play the violin



























































Antoine Hodge        USA        1982-2021












Gloria Davy        USA        1931-2012


Brooklyn-born soprano

who was the first African-American

to sing Aida with the Metropolitan Opera










Cornell MacNeil        USA        1922-2011


one of the great postwar American baritones,

he was best known for his roles in Verdi operas










soprano        USA
































soprano > Margaret Berenice Price        1941-2011


Welsh soprano

who brought a voice of pure, floating richness

to lieder and the operas of Mozart and Verdi










soprano > Shirley Verrett        USA        1931-2010


vocally lustrous

and dramatically compelling

American opera singer

who began as a mezzo-soprano

and went on to sing soprano roles

to international acclaim










soprano > Dolores Mae Wilson        USA        1928-2010










tenor        USA










Calogero Antonio Carusoto        USA        1929-2012


stalwart tenor

who in 57 seasons at the Metropolitan Opera

appeared with the company

more often than any other solo artist


















world premiere





Britten's Violin Concerto





Schoenberg's Variations for Orchestra





Beethoven's Ninth Symphony










the opening movement





in the first movement





the Suite's second movement





the finale





the final Polonaise





in the penultimate variation








































opera        USA










 New York's Metropolitan Opera        USA










opera house








USA > Mario Lanza (born Alfredo Arnold Cocozza)    1921-1959        USA


















nocturnes > lullabies










Corpus of news articles


Arts > Music > Classical




Gloria Davy,

First African-American

to Sing Aida at the Met,

Dies at 81


December 10, 2012

The New York Times



Gloria Davy, a Brooklyn-born soprano who was the first African-American to sing Aida with the Metropolitan Opera, died on Nov. 28 in Geneva. She was 81.

Her death, after a long illness, was confirmed by the soprano Martina Arroyo, a longtime friend.

A lirico-spinto (the term denotes a high voice that is darker and more forceful than a lyric soprano’s), Ms. Davy performed mainly in Europe from the 1960s onward. She was equally, if not better, known as a recitalist.

In particular, she was an interpreter of 20th-century music, including the work of Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten and Paul Hindemith.

Though she was praised by critics for the beauty of her voice, the sensitivity of her musicianship and the perfection of her pianissimos — the elusive art of attaining maximum audibility at minimum volume — Ms. Davy sang with the Met just 15 times over four seasons, from her debut in the title role of Verdi’s “Aida,” opposite Leonard Warren, in 1958 to her final performance, as Leonora in Verdi’s “Trovatore,” opposite Giulio Gari, in 1961. She also sang Pamina in Mozart’s “Magic Flute” and Nedda in Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci” with the company. In concert, she appeared with the New York Philharmonic and at Carnegie Hall and Town Hall in New York.

The daughter of parents who had come to the United States from St. Vincent, in the Windward Islands, Gloria Davy was born on March 29, 1931. Her father, according to a 1959 article about her in Ebony magazine, worked as a token clerk in the New York City subway system.

She graduated from the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan and in 1951 and 1952 received the Marian Anderson Award. The prize, for young singers, was established in 1943 by Ms. Anderson, the first black singer to appear at the Met.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1953 from the Juilliard School, where she studied with Belle Julie Soudent, Ms. Davy embarked on a career as a concert singer.

In January 1954, as a prize for having won a vocal competition sponsored by the Music Education League, Ms. Davy appeared at Town Hall with the Little Orchestra Society, singing Britten’s song cycle “Les Illuminations,” a rigorous undertaking for even a seasoned singer.

Reviewing the concert in The New York Times, Ross Parmenter wrote: “The ease with which she negotiated it immediately stamped her as a singer of unusual technical skill. And skillful accuracy was only the beginning of her story, for she has a voice of wide range that is soft, fresh, clear and warm.”

That May, Ms. Davy replaced Leontyne Price as Bess in an international tour of “Porgy and Bess,” providing her with her first significant stage experience.

When the tour reached Milan, the conductor Victor de Sabata suggested Ms. Davy learn the role of Aida for a forthcoming production at La Scala. Though she was unable to sing it there — political turbulence in Italy caused the performance to be canceled — she made her debut in the role in Nice, France, in 1957 and later sang it elsewhere in Europe.

When Ms. Davy first sang at the Met, she was only the fourth African-American to appear there, after Ms. Anderson, a contralto, and Robert McFerrin, a baritone, both of whom made their debuts in 1955, and the soprano Mattiwilda Dobbs, who first sang there the next year. (The African-American soprano Camilla Williams, who died this year, had made her debut with the New York City Opera in 1946.)

Before Ms. Davy was cast in the role, Aida, an Ethiopian princess, was perennially sung by white singers in dark makeup.

Ms. Davy’s other opera work includes appearances with the American Opera Society, a midcentury ensemble in New York, with which she sang the title role in Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena.” In Europe, she appeared at the Vienna Staatsoper and at Covent Garden in London.

For decades Ms. Davy had made her home in Geneva, returning to the United States periodically to perform and teach: she was on the faculty of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University from 1984 to 1997.

Ms. Davy was married several times. Survivors include a son, Jean-Marc Penningsfeld.

Among her recordings are albums of music by Paul Bowles and Karlheinz Stockhausen, and an album of spirituals.

Though she had planned to be a concert singer, Ms. Davy took unhesitatingly to the operatic life. “For sheer joy of singing,” she said in an interview with Opera News in 1958, “there’s nothing like opera.”

Gloria Davy, First African-American to Sing Aida at the Met, Dies at 81,






Where a Condemned Piano

Can Win an Appeal


August 6, 2012

The New York Times



Aghast at the idea of pianos being dumped, crushed, burned and dismembered?

The emotions evoked by the deaths of used pianos are powerful, and they came flooding in response to a recent article in The New York Times about their frequent disposal and the reasons for it. But when it comes to keeping old pianos alive, owners find that their feelings collide with the reality of expensive repairs and inexpensive, easily available brand-new replacements.

Still, a few options exist.

One is a charity called Keys 4/4 Kids, based in St. Paul, but it helps only if you live in parts of the Midwest, and even then there is no guarantee of survival. The 88 Keys Foundation arranges for donations in the Sacramento area. Pianoadoption.com is an online clearinghouse, but the pianos offered have not been vetted. And the practitioners of a mini-genre of the visual arts — sculptures and designs using piano parts — might be happy to take in instruments.

“If people want to get in touch to see if I’m interested in something, absolutely,” said Louise Philbrick, an artist in Portland, Me., who often creates works out of piano parts. “I try to honor the piano by giving it a new life.”

Keys 4/4 Kids accepts all pianos and will pick them up free if they are nearby and valued at more than $1,000. The owner is asked to make a donation to pay for the move for an instrument valued at less than $1,000. Keys 4/4 Kids does the appraisals by telephone and e-mail, said its executive director, Newell Hill. It has satellite offices in Chicago and Kansas City, Mo.

Moving is handled at competitive rates by a for-profit piano-moving company owned by Mr. Hill, he said. The pianos are refurbished and sold: about 850 last year, he said. Most are priced under $1,000.

The proceeds pay for the foundation’s overhead and for piano refurbishing. Pianos that are not worth keeping are used for an after-school program in which schoolchildren are taught about piano mechanisms and then get to paint the instruments. Some are used in a version of the street-piano project that has popped up in two dozen cities, with passers-by encouraged to play on pianos placed in public spaces.

Keys 4/4 Kids also donates refurbished pianos to needy families and institutions. It gave away 18 last year. Starting this fall, financial grants will also be made to art and music teachers, Mr. Hill said.

The pianist Lara Downes founded 88 Keys to support arts education in schools. It acts as a clearinghouse for used pianos, matching schools with donors. The schools pay for the move, Ms. Downes said, and technicians in her network of piano acquaintances donate basic repairs. She said the foundation had placed about 50 pianos in northern California in the last four years.

Along with the schoolchildren who benefit, the donors gain from the transaction, Ms. Downes said. “There’s this real feeling of gratitude, knowing this instrument is going on to do something else,” she said.

Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in the Manistee National Forest in western Michigan said it would be happy to accept donations.

“We’re looking for pianos in playable condition,” said Lazaro Vega, the jazz programmer for Blue Lake Public Radio, a station owned by the camp, based in Twin Lake, Mich., about a four-hour drive from Detroit. “This is another lifeline for the continuation of them,” Mr. Vega added. “They would be played.”

The station’s general manager, Dave Myers, said in an e-mail that a technician would assess a potential donated piano in the area, and that the camp would pay for the move if it decided to take it. As for pianos far from the area, Mr. Myers said, “We’ll have to decide on a case-by-case basis.”

Where a Condemned Piano Can Win an Appeal, NYT, 6.8.2012,






René Morel,

Master Restorer of Rare Violins,

Dies at 79


November 19, 2011
The New York Times


René A. Morel, a world-renowned surgeon whose clients had names like Perlman, Zukerman and Ma and whose patients had names like Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati, died on Wednesday in Wayne, N.J. He was 79.

The cause was cancer, according to a spokesman for Tarisio Fine Instruments and Bows, the New York auction house at which Mr. Morel maintained his shop.

For decades, Mr. Morel reigned as one of the world’s master luthiers. The word, pronounced loo-TYEY, is from the Old French for “lute-maker.” It now denotes a maker or restorer of stringed instruments in general and of bowed string instruments in particular.

Mr. Morel, who specialized in restoration, was widely described as among the finest violin restorers — perhaps the very finest — of his day, a calling that requires the skills of a diagnostician, acoustician and microsurgeon in equal measure.

At his death, he presided over René A. Morel Adjustments, on West 54th Street, whose very name testifies to the precise, incremental nature of his art. There, at his previous shops and in hotel rooms and concert halls around the world, he was consulted, often in panic, by some of the brightest luminaries ever to hold a bow.

Among them were the violinists Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman and the cellists Pablo Casals, Yo-Yo Ma and Bernard Greenhouse. (Mr. Morel’s two-year restoration of Mr. Greenhouse’s 1707 Stradivarius is the subject of a 2001 book, “The Countess of Stanlein Restored,” by Nicholas Delbanco.)

“Basically, he was ‘my guy’ as far as adjusting the violin went,” Mr. Perlman, who for decades entrusted his instruments, a Stradivarius and a Guarnerius, to Mr. Morel’s ministrations, said in a telephone interview on Thursday.

Violins, and their siblings, violas and cellos, are temperamental creatures. With tops of spruce and backs and sides of harder wood — often maple — they are fundamentally trees, reconfigured in strange and glorious ways that nature never intended.

For these instruments, every bump and jostle, every change in temperature or humidity, is occasion for protest. Wood shrinks and swells and strains against itself. Cracks can appear. Their sonorous voices can be reduced to growls and grumbles.

Enter Mr. Morel.

“René was really committed to the instrument as a musician’s tool,” Sam Zygmuntowicz, a prominent New York violinmaker who trained under Mr. Morel, said on Friday. “He was not trying to stabilize something to sit in a museum: he was trying to make something that could really be taken on the road and put through its paces in the most demanding of settings.”

René Alfred Morel was born in Mattaincourt, in northeast France, on March 11, 1932. His father was a violinmaker, as was his maternal grandfather. At 12, René began his training nearby in Mirecourt, a renowned French violinmaking center.

Dexterous, technically minded and a keen pilot, he also built an airplane as a youth. It was by all accounts a luthier’s airplane, made principally of wood. Whether it was actually flyable is unknown.

After serving in the French Air Force as a young man, Mr. Morel moved to the United States. In 1955, he joined the Rembert Wurlitzer Company, a distinguished New York violin dealer. He later spent 30 years as a partner in Jacques Français Rare Violins in Manhattan.

To legions of musicians, Mr. Morel, attired unvaryingly for work in a blue smock, was a comforting constant. For some, like Mr. Greenhouse, he did major surgery, which could entail an instrument’s lying in pieces on the workbench for months or more.

But his work also encompassed far less invasive, though no less crucial, adjustments. These involved the ear as much as the hand and, as Mr. Perlman described the process, typically went like this:

A player would enter the shop, instrument in hand. Mr. Morel would ask how it was sounding, and the player demonstrated.

“Aha; very interesting,” Mr. Morel would say. Then, with a slender tool, he might reach inside the instrument and, almost imperceptibly, move one of its vital internal organs — the soundpost, the wooden dowel that fits between the top and the back and transmits vibrations from one to the other.

The player played some more, and the process was repeated until the sound was sublime. Mr. Morel, a nonplayer himself, had a failsafe way of knowing precisely when that was.

“He would put up his sleeve and say, ‘You see the goose bumps,’ ” Mr. Perlman recalled. “He said as long as he didn’t get the goose bumps, it was not properly adjusted.”

Mr. Morel, who was divorced, lived in Rutherford, N.J. He is survived by three children, Evelyne, Fran and Pascal; two siblings, Paulette and Jean-Paul; his companion, Christa Nagy; and grandchildren.

He is also survived by a generation of string players, now at loose ends.

“I was talking to my wife today, and I said, ‘What am I going to do now?’ ” Mr. Perlman said on Thursday. “I’m going to have to find somebody that can produce goose bumps.”

René Morel, Master Restorer of Rare Violins, Dies at 79, NYT, 19.11.2011,






Max Mathews,

Pioneer in Making Computer Music,

Dies at 84


April 23, 2011
The New York Times


Max Mathews, often called the father of computer music, died on Thursday in San Francisco. He was 84.

The cause was pneumonia, his son Vernon said.

Mr. Mathews wrote the first program to make it possible for a computer to synthesize sound and play it back. He also developed several generations of computer-music software and electronic instruments and devices.

He was an engineer at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., in 1957 when he wrote the first version of Music, a program that allowed an IBM 704 mainframe computer to play a 17-second composition of his own devising.

Because computers at the time were so slow, it would have taken an hour to synthesize the piece, so it had to be transferred to tape and then speeded up to the proper tempo. But the experiment proved that sound could be digitized, stored and retrieved.

“The timbres and notes were not inspiring,” Mr. Mathews told a conference on computer music at Indiana University in 1997, “but the technical breakthrough is still reverberating.”

At Bell, Mr. Mathews developed new generations of Music as well as Groove, the first computer system for live performance. Music V led to such current programs as Csound, Cmix and MAX, a visual-programming language for music and multimedia originally written in the 1980s and named for Mr. Mathews.

The implications of Mr. Mathews’s early research reached popular audiences through the 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” in which the HAL 9000 computer sings “Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Built for Two)” as its cognitive functions are dismantled.

The science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke had visited Bell Laboratories in the early 1960s and listened as a vocoder, or voice recorder synthesizer, developed by John L. Kelly, sang “Daisy Bell” to a musical accompaniment programmed by Mr. Mathews. He incorporated the innovation into the novel on which the film was based.

Mr. Mathews later developed the Radio Baton, a forerunner of the gestural controllers developed by Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. The device consists of two wands, similar in appearance to timpani sticks, equipped with antennas that allow the user, waving the sticks like a conductor’s baton, to spatially manipulate the tempo, dynamics and balance of digitized orchestral music stored on MIDI files and broadcast on a computer.

“He gave us a whole new way to imagine and create music,” said John M. Chowning, a composer and the founder of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University. “He has had an enormous effect on how music has evolved in the past 50 years.”

Max Vernon Mathews was born on Nov. 13, 1926, in Columbus, Neb. His parents taught at the state teachers’ college in Peru, Neb.

After graduating from high school, he entered the Navy, which trained him as a radio technician and set him on his future course. He went on to study electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1950, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a doctorate in 1954.

At Bell Labs, where his mentor was John R. Pierce, Mr. Mathews collaborated with several scientists, as well as the composer James Tenney, working on voice synthesis and computer music. Early on, he saw the musical implications of Claude Shannon’s work on converting analog information into digital form. His optimism about the musical possibilities of digitized sound was reflected in the title of an early paper, “The Digital Computer as a Musical Instrument,” published in Science in 1963.

His research and ideas led to collaborations with the avant-garde composers Edgard Varèse and John Cage. In the 1970s, with the composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, he helped create the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique in Paris, a center devoted to research into the science of music and sound and to avant-garde electroacoustical art music.

An enthusiastic amateur violinist, Mr. Mathews invented several electronic violins. The first, called the Crossbow because of its appearance, relied on a voltage-control filter to generate nonviolin sounds. A later violin, made of sheet metal, transmitted sound from a pickup under each string to an electronic work station, where a collaborator could transform the music emanating from the violin.

After serving as the director of the Acoustical and Behavioral Research Center at Bell from 1962 to 1985, Mr. Mathews continued his research as a professor of music at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford.

In addition to his son Vernon, of San Francisco, Mr. Mathews, who also lived in San Francisco, is survived by two other sons, Guy, of Palo Alto, Calif., and Boyd, of Berkeley Heights, N.J., and six grandchildren.

“What we have to learn is what the human brain and ear thinks is beautiful,” Mr. Mathews told Wired magazine in January. “What do we love about music? What about the acoustic sounds, rhythms and harmony do we love? When we find that out it will be easy to make music with a computer.”

   Max Mathews, Pioneer in Making Computer Music, Dies at 84,
    NYT, 23.4.2011,






Anne Brown,

Who Was Gershwin’s Bess,

Dies at 96


March 18, 2009
The New York Times


Anne Brown, a penetratingly pure soprano who literally put the Bess in “Porgy and Bess” by inspiring George Gershwin to expand the character’s part in a folk opera that was originally to be called “Porgy,” died Friday in Oslo. She was 96.

Her daughter Paula Schjelderup announced the death.

“Porgy and Bess” burst onto the American scene in 1935 as a sophisticated musical treatment of poor blacks. Critics could not make out whether it was a musical comedy, a jazz drama, a folk opera or something quite different. Time told: it became part of the standard operatic repertory, including that of the Metropolitan Opera.

Drawing from the gritty experiences of South Carolina blacks, “Porgy and Bess” introduced songs that came to be lodged in American culture. Ms. Brown was the first person Gershwin heard singing the part of Bess, a morally challenged but achingly human character who was relatively minor in the original 1925 DuBose Heyward novel and the 1927 hit stage play by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward.

As he composed the opera, often with Ms. Brown at his side, Gershwin added more and more music for her. Her voice was also the first he heard singing several other parts in the opera.

“Porgy and Bess” went on to be produced on countless amateur and professional stages all over the world. Because Gershwin died at 38 in 1937, Ms. Brown was the only Bess he ever knew.

Her own story has an operatic flavor. She grew up in a protective middle-class home with crystal chandeliers and music; her father later worried about her going to New York, where she was accepted at Juilliard, much less playing the part of a tawdry woman like Bess. She was lauded for her talent, but as a child was rejected from a Baltimore Catholic elementary school because she was African-American.

Even after winning the Margaret McGill prize as the best singer at Juilliard, she had no hope of reaching the top tiers of opera. Not until 1955 did the Met feature a black singer, Marian Anderson.

Ms. Brown ultimately moved to Oslo. “To put it bluntly, I was fed up with racial prejudice,” she said in an interview with The New York Times in 1998.

Anne Wiggins Brown was born in Baltimore on Aug. 9, 1912. Her father, a surgeon, was the grandson of slaves, and her mother was a music lover who played the piano daily. Family legend had it that Ms. Brown could sing a perfect scale when she was 9 months old, The Washington Post reported in 1994.

After attending what was then Morgan College, Ms. Brown was rejected by the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, a leading conservatory. She was encouraged by the wife of the owner of The Baltimore Sun to apply to Juilliard. She had earned an undergraduate degree and was in her second year of graduate studies at Juilliard when she read that Gershwin was writing his opera. She wrote to ask for an interview. His secretary called to ask her to go to his apartment, with lots of music.

She brought music by Brahms, Schubert and other classical composers, which Gershwin played as she sang, she recalled in numerous interviews. When he asked her to sing a Negro spiritual, she balked. She considered the request racial stereotyping, but finally sang “A City Called Heaven” without accompaniment.

Gershwin was quiet after she finished. He finally told her that it was the most beautiful spiritual he ever heard. They hugged.

Soon, Gershwin telephoned to say, “I’ve finished up to page 33 or so,” and asked her to come over to sing it. Finally, in the last days of rehearsals, Gershwin took her to a restaurant to have an orange juice and told her he was expanding the title of the opera to include Bess, her part. Ms. Brown talked Gershwin into letting Bess sing “Summertime” in the third act, reprising the song the character Clara sings earlier.

Although the show received mixed reviews in October 1935, Ms. Brown was praised. Olin Downes in The Times said her work was “a high point of interpretation.” She went on to appear in the Broadway play “Mamba’s Daughters” (1939), a revival of “Porgy” in 1942 and the Gershwin movie biography “Rhapsody in Blue” (1945), playing herself.

She performed extensively in Europe, South America and elsewhere, and taught voice for many years in a drama school in Oslo; one of her students was Liv Ullmann. Her own singing career was cut short by a lung illness in the 1950s.

In 1948, Ms. Brown made a concert tour of European capitals and settled in Oslo, where she became a Norwegian citizen and married Thorleif Schjelderup, who won third place in ski jumping at the 1948 Winter Olympics. The marriage ended in divorce, as did two previous marriages.

Ms. Brown is survived by her daughters Paula and Vaar Schjelderup; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

In 1998, Ms. Brown received the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America from the Peabody Institute, which has operated as a division of Johns Hopkins University since 1977.

In the interview with The Times, Ms. Brown suggested she had been born 30 years too soon.

“If I had been born even 20 years later I might have sung at the Metropolitan Opera,” she mused. “I might have marched for civil rights. I would have been here for that. I would certainly not have lived in Norway, and my life would have been very different.”

With bright eyes, she added, “Of course, I would not have met Mr. Gershwin, and that would have been a shame.”

    Anne Brown, Who Was Gershwin’s Bess, Dies at 96, NYT, 19.3.2009,






Turning 100 at Carnegie Hall,

With New Notes


December 12, 2008
The New York Times


Classical music tends to lionize the great composer cut down in youth, but Elliott Carter made a mockery of that trope on Thursday. Mr. Carter, the dean of American composers, celebrated his 100th birthday, on the day, with a concert at Carnegie Hall.

He had a piece on the program, of course, but not some chestnut written when he was a student in Paris in the 1930s or an avant-gardist in New York in the 1950s or a Pulitzer Prize winner in the 1960s or a setter of American poetry in the 1970s or a begetter of chamber music and concertos in the 1980s.

Mr. Carter wrote the 17-minute piece, for piano and orchestra, just last year, at 98. In fact, since he turned 90, Mr. Carter has poured out more than 40 published works, an extraordinary burst of creativity at a stage when most people would be making peace with mortality.

His first opera had its premiere in 1999. He produced 10 works in 2007 and six more this year. “I don’t know how I did it,” Mr. Carter said on Tuesday in the cluttered but homey Greenwich Village apartment where he has lived since 1945. “The earlier part of my life I felt I was more or less exploring what I would like to write. Now I’ve found it out, and I don’t have to think so much about it.”

The new piece, “Interventions,” was given its New York premiere Thursday evening by the pianist Daniel Barenboim and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with James Levine conducting. When it ended, Mr. Carter slowly rose amid the cheers and applause, and with the aid of a friend, made his way to the stage. Mr. Barenboim took his arm and helped him up the steps. A mock cake adorned with piano keys and musical notes, topped with a sparkler, was wheeled out. The orchestra broke into “Happy Birthday,” with the audience singing along. After Mr. Carter made his way back to his seat, Mr. Barenboim and Mr. Levine, who had asked him to write the piece for the occasion, stood at the edge of the stage applauding.

Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” came next on the program; Mr. Carter said that hearing a performance of that piece at Carnegie 85 years ago had helped inspire him to become a composer.

Mr. Carter is a phenomenon. To paraphrase the musical satirist Tom Lehrer, when Mozart was Mr. Carter’s age, he had been dead for 65 years.

He has lived more than three times as long as Schubert did. Some composers, like Verdi and Richard Strauss, produced until the end of long lives — but that was merely their 80s.

Lionized as one of the great American composers, Mr. Carter is respected as much, if not more, in Europe. The intellectual and performing giants of the field champion him and several top musicians in New York remain deeply loyal. Despite the thorny, complex nature of much of his music, his concerts these days are often packed, as was Carnegie on Thursday night.

“He’s still writing at the top of his form,” Mr. Levine said. “Like all great composers, every time he writes a piece he has new ideas he’s trying, as well as coming up with a subtler reworking of something he had done before.”

The Carnegie affair is one of dozens of concerts that have taken place worldwide recently to honor Mr. Carter. “God help me,” Mr. Carter said.

All the attention has left him feeling a little ambivalent. “There are all these pieces I want to write,” he said, “and I can’t get to them because there are all these things getting in the way. But on the other hand one does enjoy appearing, having especially wonderful performances, which is fascinating to me.”

That prompted a provocative thought.

“I’d rather hear them play good contemporary music than old music,” he said of the performers devoted to his work. He was bored, he said, with scores from the age of “gaslights and horses,” although he admits to exceptions: Mozart, Wagner, Beethoven symphonies. But 20th-century composers “have a spark” and convey “what it is like to be living now,” he said.

In the interview, Mr. Carter displayed a mind alive with ideas, a gentle but slightly tart wit and a streak of self-deprecation.

Mr. Carter, whose father was a lace importer, was born in New York. He attended Harvard with a recommendation from Charles Ives, majored in English, and went to France to study composition with the legendary teacher Nadia Boulanger. He wakes every day at 7 a.m., composes for two and a half hours, goes out for a constitutional with an aide, rests after lunch, composes again or receives visitors in the afternoon, and watches French satellite television in the evening, if he does not have a concert to attend.

He said he has gone back to reading the classics, including “Hamlet.” After starting a third bout with Proust in the original French, “I got a little sick of it two months ago,” he said. “That’s why I turned to Shakespeare.”

A terra cotta self-portrait head of his wife, Helen, a sculptor who fiercely protected him until her death in 2003, sits in his living room. Virgil Blackwell, a clarinetist, serves as Mr. Carter’s business manager and constant helper, handling everything from royalties to hearing-aid batteries.

Audiences do not always take well to Mr. Carter’s complicated works. But players are drawn to his music because of its challenges and his ability to write well for their instruments.

His recent compositions have generally grown shorter and less dense. “I finally have done all my adventures and great big noisy pieces. Now I write simple ones. That’s a new adventure.”

He said that life — his, at least — “is just a matter of luck.”

“I’ll be damned if I know why I write all that music that people like,” he said. “That some people like, anyhow,” he added.

With the interviewer out of the apartment, Mr. Carter was heard on the other side of the door saying to an aide, “I’ve got to rest a little after this nonsense.”

    Turning 100 at Carnegie Hall, With New Notes, NYT, 12.12.2008,






April 4 1986

Peter Pears dies at his festival home


From The Guardian archive


 April 4 1986
The Guardian


Sir Peter Pears, Britain's most celebrated tenor, who brought creative and emotional support to his lifelong friend, Benjamin Britten, died yesterday at the Suffolk home he had shared with the composer for 30 years. He was 75, and had not sung professionally since a stroke five years ago.

Sir Peter's wide vocal repertoire and imaginative range took in the creation of the rough-hewn and torment edly boy-obsessed Peter Grimes, the modernising of Suffolk and other folk songs, and even a contribution to the libretto for one of Britten's sunnier operas, A Midsummer Night's Dream. He will be buried next week beside Britten in Aldeburgh churchyard.

Living together in Aldeburgh, Pears had been the diplomat of the relationship, balancing Britten's edgy energy and creativity, which was sometimes more set on getting artistic results than on keeping friends.

Never totally engulfed by the often overwrought and demanding composer, Pears gave ideas to others as well as Britten. He was behind the song cycle written by Britten for Fischer-Dieskau from Songs and Proverbs of Blake, but he also suggested the idea of the comic opera, The Bear, to Sir William Walton.

He made no secret of the fact that Britten's choice of some of his opera subjects had nothing to do with him. These included Henry James' Turn of the Screw, another dark labyrinth of twisted childhood, and the TV opera Owen Wingrave.

"After the success of Peter Grimes, Ben, who was very irascible, went into a sort of inflated world and those who could went there with him and those who couldn't, didn't," said a former friend yesterday. "I kept out of it, Peter remained part of it. But he knew it was a bit much occasionally. I don't think that Peter had problems because of his childhood and Peter sheltered Ben — I think quite deliberately so."

Sir Michael Tippett said yesterday that the relationship of the two sovereign artists had gone through a rocky patch when Britten no longer wanted to accompany Pears on the piano, but Pears got other accompanists and the relationship survived.

"No relationship can be entirely serene, but this one ended in being serene," said Sir Michael. "Peter was tough. He would not go along with Ben when he got on his high horse."

A Suffolk resident who saw Sir Peter socialising at a recent Aldeburgh festival, which he and Britten formed, said simply: "He was the sort of man who always had excellent manners, and always put all sorts of people instantly at their ease."


Dennis Barker

    From The Guardian archive > April 4 1986,
    Peter Pears dies at his festival home, G,
    Republished 4.4.2007, p. 32,






May 31, 1952


Elgar's prophecy

of the wrath to come


From the Guardian archive


Saturday May 31, 1952



In his presidential lecture to the English Association, Mr AL Rowse consoled his audience by the remark that, if writing is not at a high peak at the moment, English painting is enjoying a more creative period than since the eighteenth century, and English music than at any time since the Elizabethans.

I certainly do not share Mr Rowse's opinion of contemporary English music. I recall several occasions when a certain school of English musicians or critics has hailed the passing moment and, like Faust, called out "Verweile doch!" - "Delay, thou art so fair".

There was a definite renaissance when I was a boy, led by Parry, Stanford, William Wallace, Ethel Smyth, and others whose names are now forgotten. Time alone discovers the masterpiece. Contemporary readers will possibly be surprised to learn that Ethel Smyth's opera The Wreckers was once thought of as highly here and in Germany as Peter Grimes is today.

In half a century from 1952 several names now famous will have become as remote as have Granville Bantock and Josef Holbrooke. A certain critic maintained that Bantock, not Elgar, was the really important composer.

"But", it will be argued, "Elgar and Delius are dated, the one a complacent Edwardian, the other a romantic". The critical test of music in 1952 apparently insists not so much on aesthetic values as on values psychological, political, ideological, and topical. If a work does not express certain "reactions" of the moment it is dismissed.

None of us who hailed Elgar as a master was aware that he was speaking for a "complacent" epoch: in fact we thought that we lived in not untroubled times, our heaven not entirely unshadowed by war clouds.

We thought we heard the note of menace, some prophecy of the wrath to come, in the slow movement of the E flat Symphony.

There is also the despised 1920s, thence to the outbreak of the second war. Walton produced Balshazzar's Feast in 1931, the viola concerto in 1929, the symphony in 1935. Between the two wars, Bax produced his symphonies and the best of his piano music. No English composer has written for the instrument with more than his distinction. Not the least valuable of Vaughan Williams's contributions was given in the 1920s.

So much for comparisons of periods supposedly "creative". Music in 1952 is in a turbulent melting-pot: we are in a stage of experiment as vital as exciting. The experiments are often done in public. It is difficult in a disintegrating external scene to produce integrated art, difficult to turn the soil and sow the seed at the same time.

    From the archive > May 31, 1952,
    Elgar's prophecy of the wrath to come, G,
    Republished 31.5.2006,






September 6 1947


The first Festival at Edinburgh


From The Guardian archive


Frank Harris said that if Edinburgh were dropped into the Trossachs country we should have another Salzburg. But Edinburgh is as far removed from the baroque, in spirit and external manifestation, as well could be.

The 'old town' was hewn from granite; and granite lives have been lived in the twisting declivities of the streets. The 'new town' is a city of Adam mansions and secluded spa cious squares. Industry and 'progress' dug a railway in the valley which divides the old town and the castle on the rocks from the new. Smoke trailing like sentences of Carlyle wafts over the handsome gardens which border Princes Street, congested with double-decker trams. Cafes and restaurants close on the Sabbath.

Even on weekdays the visitor to the festival from Vienna or Paris might find himself forced back on tea and a sandwich after a performance of Figaro, and driven to premature bedtime while his mind craves for conversation until dawn.

None the less the roots have been thrust into the earth. The Edinburgh Festival will, I think, continue and burgeon and create sooner or later its own atmosphere and 'Stimmung.' Why indeed drag in Salzburg? — as Whistler said of Velazquez.

It is remarkable that Edinburgh should have been chosen to house the first truly international music festival held in Britain; for Scotland, not England, is really 'das Land ohne Musik'. But cultural ties binding Scotland to Europe were woven long ago. Kant was wakened from his 'dogmatic slumber' by David Hume. Carlyle translated Goethe; and Goethe nourished himself on Walter Scott. Boswell called on Voltaire. Beethoven interested himself for an occasion in Scottish folk-song.

The sun is once more announcing his opulence. It is royal and day-long sunshine that so quickly has ripened this festival of the talents of many countries. Through music Edinburgh picks up again the links of culture forged by hard thinking, not by the easier sensuous way of music, centuries since, joining Scotland with the intellectual governance of the world.

We have been blessed beyond all reasonable expectations. Some of the concerts have restored pre-war standards. Into this challenging air came the Hallé Orchestra, and made its contribution, definite and characteristic.

Visitors from overseas were incredulous that this was an ensemble of comparatively brief growth. The playing was entirely free of any suggestion of provincialism. Barbirolli's achievement in creating this orchestra has been astonishing — nearly miraculous.


Neville Cardus

The first Festival at Edinburgh, from The Guardian archive,
September 6 1947, G,
republished 6.9.2007, p. 40,






September 27, 1909


Edward Elgar's hopes

for new British music


From the Guardian archive


Monday September 27, 1909



Sir Edward Elgar, president of the Musical League, speaking at a luncheon given by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, said it was a curious paradox that the teaching of music was treated not as an art of sound, but as an art of sight.

For example, they were taught that consecutive fifths were wrong - they looked wrong (laughter); that was an art of sight. But they had grown through that.

Still a great deal had to be done. A great many people still went to concerts to look at the conductors when they ought to be listening. (Laughter.) That was, they treated music as out of sight. (Laughter.)

Some also went to look at the vocalists (renewed laughter).

The commercial side of music had always been a difficulty. They saw vast sums spent on worthless musical certificates, but until that sort of thing was cleared away, he did not think they could say that the art of music had been fairly treated, even by professors of music. He would like to see music treated purely as an art of sound.

They had to consider, in reviewing the commercial side, how far it was possible for serious music to remunerate the composer. They had only to consider the difficulty of getting any return for a serious orchestral work. It was almost impossible for a composer to get a return which would even keep him in bread and cheese.

It was imperative from the composer's point of view that the people should be educated up to the point of appreciating their British composers (cheers).

He was not saying that everything that was produced deserved to be appreciated. There was a great deal of poverty in compositions as well as in English composers. Amongst English composers there had been very legitimate discontent.

There were hopes that a school of British music would be formed and that the British people would flock to hear the works of their own countrymen. (Applause.)

Curiously enough that had not always been the case. Recognition of some Englishmen had come from abroad first. The object of the Musical League was to give British composers as far as possible a dignified introduction to a large public.

They had endeavoured in the League to produce what the committee thought the best work that had been sent in for the first festival. In choosing Liverpool it must not be supposed the League imagined that the city was in any need of musical regeneration.

From the archive > September 27, 1909,
Edward Elgar's hopes for new British music,
Republished 27.9.2006,






On This Day - May 27, 1878


From The Times Archive


HMS Pinafore was the opera
that established Gilbert and Sullivan
as the leading contemporary composers
for the Victorian stage


ON Saturday night HMS Pinafore, a new “original nautical comic opera”, the joint production of Mr W. G. Gilbert and Mr Arthur Sullivan, saw the light of the stage.

Like its predecessor from the same source, it bids fair to open a new and successful epoch in the history of the pretty theatre in the Strand, where English opera under the auspices of Mr D’Oyly Carte has found a congenial home. We apply the words “English opera” by some stretch of courtesy, for as yet the attempt at the establishment of a national musical stage is of a somewhat modest kind. Here we have a libretto by an English dramatist and music by an English composer; the former witty and amusing, without a shadow of the more or less veiled improprieties characteristic of French importations; and the latter melodious and admirably constructed without the aid of German or Italian models.

Mr Gilbert’s plot is of the simplest description. But with Mr Gilbert a plot is seldom more than a lay figure which he delights in dressing in the fantastic garb of his wit and imagination.

The manner in which Mr Sullivan accepts the position thus prepared for him by his collaborator is worthy of the highest commendation. Whenever he finds that Mr Gilbert’s humour cannot be aided by musical means he lets well alone. On the other hand, he loses no opportunity for emphasising comic points or indicating hidden irony.

From The Times Archives,
On This Day - May 27, 1878,
The Times,










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