Here I am again for our annual glance (see “New year: time to take stock”) at a selection of composers and musicians who passed away in 2014 and, in order to celebrate them, I’ll give some suggestions (one per person) of items related to them at the Pendlebury Library.
20th January 2014: Claudio Abbado, 80, Italian conductor. Described by The Guardian as “one of the greatest musicians of the past 50 years”, Abbado’s career has been studded with innumerable successes and with a strong dedication towards young musicians.
His wide repertory embraced a period of more than four centuries and his discography is huge. I suggest you listen to Il viaggio a Reims, the opera he rescued from total neglect in performances at the 1984 ‘Rossini Opera Festival’ in Pesaro with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (Pen CD.C.40).
25th February 2014: Paco de Lucía, 66, Spanish guitarist and composer. He was a leading personality in the Flamenco style, as underlined by the jury of Spain’s prestigious Asturias Prize for Art “his style has been a beacon for young generations and his art has made him into one of the best ambassadors of Spanish culture in the world”. He recorded several CDs and starred in some films, such as Carlos Saura’s “Carmen” (Pen Vid.C.12), a flamenco interpretation of the Carmen story: here Paco de Lucía is seen throughout the film as the leader of the flamenco guitarists accompanying the dancers in rehearsal.
17th March 2014: Joseph Kerman, 89, American musicologist and critic. Author of a number of appreciated books and essays, Kerman was not reluctant to express his often contentious opinions vividly. One of his most controversial and provocative books was Opera as Drama (Pb.700.19B.K9) (probably his best known book to general readers, first published in 1956 and revised in 1988), in which, for example, he described Puccini’s “Tosca” as “a shabby little shocker”.
18th June 2014: Horace Silver, 85, American jazz pianist, bandleader and composer. Influenced by Portuguese folk music, gospel, blues, bop and Latin American music, he incorporated all these styles in the hard bop. Described as one of the most influential musicians in the history of jazz, during his career Silver collaborated for four years with Art Blakey; in 1954 they taped together A night at Birdland, the first recording at the famous New York nightclub with the specific purpose of release on record. The CD, remastered by Rudy Van Gelder and reissued for the second time in 2001 with the original cover, is borrowable from the Pendlebury (Pen CD.B.391, part of the Julian Andrews’ collection).
11th July 2014: Charlie Haden, 76, American double bass player and leader. Known especially for his long collaboration with the saxophonist Ornette Coleman, Haden is considered one of free jazz’s founding fathers. Why not consider him from a different angle, listening to the album Steal Away (Pen CD.B.339), recorded in 1994, a selection of spirituals, hymns and folk songs performed as duets together with the pianist Hank Jones.
13th July 2014: Lorin Maazel, 84, American conductor, composer and violinist. After being hailed as a child prodigy (at eleven he was guest conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra at the invitation of Toscanini), in 1953 he started a brilliant European career and served many orchestras as Artistic Director and Music Director. His discography comprises more than 300 recordings and about 40 operas. I recommend watching the DVD of La fanciulla del West (Pen DVD.C.54), recorded live in 1991 at Teatro alla Scala.
13th August 2014: Frans Brüggen, 79, Dutch conductor, recorder player and flautist. Brüggen was one of the great virtuosos of the recently rediscovered recorder, and pioneer of a school where many talented period flautists studied. Even when attracted by the avant-garde, his enduring reputation is linked to his work with 18th- and early 19th-century music, for which at the beginning of the Eighties he founded the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century. The Pendlebury holds a cd of a selection of works for piano and orchestra by Chopin performed of the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century conducted by Brüggen (Pen CD.Q.297).
20th November 2014: Arthur Butterworth, 91, English composer and conductor. Prolific composer (he started composing at the age of 10 and wrote more than 150 pieces, including seven symphonies, chamber music, and music for brass band), his music is often informed by his deep and immeasurable love of the north country. At the Pendlebury we hold the score of The Path across the Moors for brass band (Pen 871.D.B17), a short piece originally composed for orchestra, “an evocation of the wide expanses of the moors, the wind and the heather; of solitary sheep-tracks and unfrequented paths over the wild moorlands of the north” (see the loose leaf preface inserted in the score).
Hope you enjoyed these suggestions!