It seems only yesterday I wrote the post “To celebrate, to commemorate: 2014” to pay tribute to some musicians who died in 2014 and here I am again to remember some of the relevant figures in the music world who passed away in 2015.
1st February 2015: Aldo Ciccolini, 89, Italian pianist, was a celebrated performer of piano music of French composers such as Camille Saint-Saëns, Maurice Ravel, also gave recitals of lesser known works by composers such as Déodat de Séverac, Jules Massenet, Francis Poulenc, Vincent d’Indy. Ciccolini was the first in the world to record the complete piano works of Erik Satie, a milestone in Satie’s recordings. A slip box of Satie’s Piano works recorded in the Eighties is borrowable from the Pendlebury (Pen CD.Q.272).
13rd February 2015: John McCabe, 75, British composer and pianist. During his prolific career he composed more than 200 pieces which include almost every genre from the large-scale forms to solo instrumental compositions, mostly for piano. His repertoire as a pianist spread from pre-classical to modern composers with a predilection for twentieth-century music and Joseph Haydn of whom, between 1974 and 1976, he recorded the complete piano sonatas. At the Pendlebury library you can find some scores and CDs of his huge body of work, among them the score of Notturni ed alba for soprano and orchestra (Pen Pb.290.93M.N1). McCabe was a friend and admirer of William Alwyn, and there are a number of letters between the two composers in the William Alwyn Archive at the UL.
21st February 2015: Clark Terry, 94, American jazz trumpeter, was one of the pioneers of the jazz era in the Forties and Fifties. During his 60 year long-career Clark Terry played with Charlie Barnet, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Quincy Jones, and took part in many performances both as a leader and as a sideman and had more than 300 recordings. With his style he influenced a whole generation of trumpet players, including Miles Davis.
We can appreciate him in some arrangements by Quincy Jones recorded between 1961 and 1964 available at the Pendlebury (Pen CD.B.345).
14th May 2015: B.B. King (Riley B. King), 89, American blues singer, guitarist and songwriter. With his long and impressive career, B.B. King was one of the most important exponents of the blues in the twentieth- and twenty-first century. Winner of 14 Grammy Awards, according to the Rolling Stone magazine he occupies a position in the top ten list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time. An anthology of 35 songs from 1950-2000 for voice and guitar is available at the UL (A2002.919).
11th June 2015: Ornette Coleman, 85, American jazz saxophonist and composer. Considered the father of Free Jazz, Coleman reached a position of eminence similar to musicians like Charlie Parker (by whom he was influenced), Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis. His album Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation, considered the most provocative of his recordings, was at the time the longest improvisation recording ever heard (nearly forty minutes). You can borrow this and other Coleman CDs from the Pendlebury Library (Pen CD.B.457).
22nd June 2015: James Horner, 62, American film composer and conductor. You know when Rose and Jack are at the bow of the Titanic and Rose says “I’m flying, Jack” while Celine Dion sings My Heart Will Go On? Well, this is just one of the film scores composed by James Horner for which he won Oscars for Best original dramatic score and Best original song and it was considered one of the best-selling orchestral film soundtracks of all time. But the list of his compositions is very long and includes film scores for The Name of the Rose (1986), Braveheart (1995), Apollo 13 (1995), The Mask of Zorro (1998), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Troy (2004), The Legend of Zorro (2005) and Avatar (2009).
A collection of his best songs can be found at the UL (A1999.681)
17th September 2015: David Willcocks, 96, English organist, choirmaster and composer, Willcocks was particularly linked to Cambridge. Firstly he was an organ scholar (1939), then became a fellow of King’s College (1947-50) and later organist of the same college (1957-1974) where he played a leading role and raised the choir to levels of excellence never before reached. He was for many years the emblem of the ‘Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols’ broadcast live at Christmas Eve from King’s College. A life in music: conversations with Sir David Willcocks and friends edited by William Owen is borrowable both at the Pendlebury Library (Pen Pb.571.91W.L1) and at the UL (M950.c.200.1305)
10th November 2015: Robert Craft, 92, American conductor, writer on music “and confidant of Igor Stravinsky” (according to his website). The year 1948 marked the start of a fruitful relationship with Stravinsky that lasted until the composer’s death in 1971. Craft built his career in the shadow of the Russian composer but also distinguished himself for musicological research. His research focused in particular on the second Viennese school and he excelled directing compositions of Gesualdo, Monteverdi and Bach as well as of his mentor, who wrote of him: “Robert Craft is the best conductor of my works. The old ones, the new ones, and even those not yet written.” A prolific author of essays and memoirs, Craft published in 1972 Stravinsky: Chronicle of a Friendship, available in a revised and expanded edition both at the Pendlebury (Pen Pb.570.88S.Z21) and at the UL (M529.c.95.402)
19th December 2015: Kurt Masur, 87, German conductor. Called “one of the last old-style maestros” in an article published in the «Guardian» in 2007, he was esteemed particularly for his interpretation of the romantic repertoire (Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Mahler and especially Bruckner). During his long career Masur was for 26 years music director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra (1970-1996) and principal conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for 11 years (1991-2002). With the New York Philharmonic Orchestra he recorded, among other things, the Symphony no. 7 in E major by Anton Bruckner borrowable at the Pendlebury Library (Pen CD.M.472).
31st December 2015: Natalie Cole, 65, American singer and songwriter. Daughter of the unforgettable Nat “King” Cole, reinterpreting her father’s standards with her style between pop and jazz (first and foremost Unforgettable… with Love), Natalie Cole sold 30 million records worldwide and won six Grammy Awards.