In Memoriam: Classical Musicians Who Died in 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013 - 12:00 AM

The year 2013 saw the passing of conductors and composers, directors and singers, among others who contributed to classical music. Scroll through the slideshow, and click on the individual photos for a full obituary.


And Four Others...

Risë Stevens: Mezzo-soprano opera star Risë Stevens, who sang with the Metropolitan Opera for more than 20 years spanning the 1940s and 1950s, died on March 20 at age 99. Stevens made a name for herself in Hollywood, appearing in Bing Crosby's film "Going My Way" (1944), in which she sang the Habañera from Carmen. This led to her first actual stage performance as Carmen at the Met, in 1945. Her saucy approach to the role  allowed her to sing it there some 75 times. She debuted at Milan's La Scala in 1954.

Lloyd Moss, a WQXR host of five decades known for his gentle irreverence and genial wit, died on on August 3 at age 86. Moss came to WQXR in 1954 and by his retirement on Sept. 29, 2006, was one of the longest-serving classical music hosts in the United States. Like many radio personalities of the era, he worked as a voiceover artist and actor, with various credits in television and radio during the 1970s and '80s. Moss was also known for his eclectic outside pursuits: as a children's author, editorial cartoonist, classically-trained trombonist and even a one-time model.

Lotfi Mansouri, a former general director of the San Francisco Opera for 13 years died on August 28. He was 84. Mansouri took over at the San Francisco Opera in 1988 and was responsible for ambitious productions including Jake Heggie's maiden opera, "Dead Man Walking." He also oversaw the first San Francisco productions of many Russian opera masterpieces.

Lou Reed, the punk pioneer who also collaborated with Robert Wilson and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and influenced composers including David Lang and John Zorn, died on October 27 at age 71.

Updated 12/26, 8 pm


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Comments [16]


Your slideshow features 13 men and only 2 women. The "And Four Others" brings that up to 16 men and 3 women. Surely women in the arts die at roughly the same pace as men, so why aren't they equally mentioned?

Jan. 01 2014 11:32 AM

@Les - thank you for letting us know.

Jan. 01 2014 11:03 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

I was stunned to read on the BBC website on 1 January 2014 of the death of composer Wojciech Kilar on 29 December 2013, probably most universally known as a film composer including "Dracula" and "The Pianist". His catalog was large in film and orchestral writing with some choral works as as well. His "Orawa", for strings, was played recently by the Cleveland Orchetra Youth Orchestra and is available On Demand as of this writing from the Orchestra website. It's texturally interesting and harmonically daring; and although "trance music" doesn't appeal to me at all, I make this one exception. I can't think of anything composed in the last 25 years that I'd want to hear again except this work dating from 1988.

Jan. 01 2014 10:28 AM
Franklin Hotzel

Also David Zauder long time trumpeter with the Cleveland.

Dec. 31 2013 09:39 AM
Howard from Florida

Peter Minich left us this year, and dazzling career highlighted with the Vienna Volksoper, where he sang many leading roles. He performed in opera occasionally, but made many films.

Dec. 30 2013 11:47 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

Maestro Bruno Bartoletti passed on this year. A mainstay and bulwark of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, his artistry is preserved on a recording of Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera" with Renata Tebaldi and Luciano Pavarotti, and a DVD of Bellini's "La Sonnambula" with Anna Moffo and the RAI Milano forces. Perhaps other recordings of his legacy exist, too.

Dec. 30 2013 11:24 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

The passing of singers REGINA RESNIK, EVELYN LEAR and DIETRICH FISCHER-DIESKAU and composer MARVIN HAMLISCH and conductor WOLFGANG SAWALLISCH deserves considerable tributes to their own special talents and accomplishments. AND NOW WE LEARN OF THE PASSING OF MARTA EGGERTH at age 101, surely the last link with the golden age of VIENNESE OPERETTA of performers who premiered in the original productions of the LEHAR and KALMAN and JOHANN STRAUSS, JR productions. MARTA EGGERTH was a colorful radiant personality with a joie de vivre whom I got to meet at the New York College of Music where I was studying voice with ALEXANDER KIPNIS and her son studied piano and at a RICHARD TAUBER TRIBUTE EVENT with JARMILA NOVOTNA and GEORGE JELLINEK at the old Aquarium, formerly the Fort Clinton on the Hudson River built to confront a possible British naval invasion in the pre-Revolutionary War era at the Battery, Manhattan's most southerly landscape, that P.T. BARNUM converted into the Castle Clinton concert auditorium to serve as the debut site in the USA for the touring world-renowned JENNY LIND. Like NOVOTNA and my teacher FRIEDA HEMPEL she was a stunningly beautiful woman in her heyday and her voice was clear and silvery, the very ideal icon of her age for everything bourgeoisie Viennese. My own background with famous opera singer and acting teachers and my own performances consort to evaluate so highly her longtime performance achievement, totally amazing. ] will sing the four song cycles that are most often performed in their orchestral garb: Wagner's "Wesendonck Lieder," Mahler's "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen," Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" and Schoenberg's "Gurre-Lieder" at the New Life Expo at the Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC on Saturday March 22nd at 6 PM. I have sung four three-hour-long solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall including programming the Wagner and the first named Mahler song cycle. I am the director at the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute of Boonton, NJ. where I teach voice and train artists in all the Wagner and Shakespeare roles. and

Dec. 27 2013 08:59 PM
Ian Sutton

Omitted from you list of classical musicians who died in 2013 was Mario Bernardi, 81, the first conductor of Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra and later the Calgary Philharmonic. He was brilliant in both posts.

Dec. 27 2013 02:29 PM
Thomas Cowan from Washington, DC

Also Clyde Holloway. He was one of the best, most requested organists and highly respected as a teacher.

Dec. 27 2013 12:57 PM
Thomas Bock from Omaha NE

I never missed "First Hearing" with the wonderful Mr. Moss, but sadly only recorded a few of the programs. It was a sad day when the Omaha station broadcasting this greatest of QXR's programming.....we still have two Classical stations to listen to and I am grateful as the years roll by. Tom Bock

Dec. 27 2013 12:49 PM
sharon gray from Greenwhich village

WQXR is more than a Radio Station it is an education in Music and Musical history including wonderful
stores about conductors and Composers. How they manage to provide us with the most well informed,
staff is a miracle. Mr. Moss such an example he was still on when I joined and I would never miss
George Jelenk (?) and I also miss the lovely Midge.....Jeff must be this
countries only totally brilliant musical stand up comedian but it is the entire staff who makes this
more than just a radio station and the new programs are wonderful and I wish them all the
very best in 2014

Dec. 27 2013 11:24 AM
Charles Fischbein from Front Royal, Va.

Dear Duck, you have a great eye to pick up between 5000 and 500 in a foot note. Must have been type set by a union typesetter too focused on his overtime pay and union dues than a true professional.
It reminds me of when I first worked with Victor Marchetti, at Liberty Lobby/Spotlight when he left the CIA to write "CIA and the Cult of Intelligence." Way before laptops and and with just a few early desktops around, the agency would send copies to "for your eyes only" documents to selected personnel. Each copy would have just one, and only one difference from the other. One might have a(.) at the end of a word, the next would have a(;) next to a different word, and on and on each having only one difference from the next copy. Each copy with its change was noted and assigned to a specific person. In that way if a document was copied or leaked the agency" could determine which person was responsible for the leak, many of these documents were fifty or a hundred pages long so it would not be possible for different agents and "assets" to compare notes word for world.
Just a quick thought I would share with you that came to mind after reading your quote on "editing", something with my horrible spelling I learned a great deal about when writing in D.C. with daily threats from my wonderful copy editors.
One personal thought, being someone who has to use a power wheelchair frequently as my leg with 12 surgeries fades by mid day, I marvel at how a conductor can focus on leading a full orchestra from a chair and still have the ability to keep musicians and in many cases singers together. I am amazed at Maestro Levine and his ability to lead the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra from a power chair. While these chairs do give someone like myself or Mr. Levine the ability to move freely they are not designed to conduct from and anyone who can do this formidable task confined to a power wheelchair is amazing to me.
Hope you an your family had a wonderful Christmas, and best for a great New Year filled with beautiful music and health. God Speed, Charles Fischbein

Dec. 27 2013 08:52 AM

I just finished reading the Risë Stevens biography by John Pennino. Very interesting book -- but horribly edited. One text reference was of Rudolf Bing's book, 5,000 Nights at the Opera, while the footnote said 500 Nights at the Opera.

Still, Ms. Stevens had a career that spanned opera, radio, TV, film and arts administration. Brava!


Dec. 26 2013 10:29 PM
Leslie from Belfast, Maine

I only saw Jame DePriest conduct the Boston Symphony one time. I liked the music he made with them. I was always sorry I didn't see him conduct again.

Dec. 26 2013 04:08 PM
Peter J Blume from Westchester, NY

Thank you WQXR for bringing this. I don't recall if I had been made aware at the time of Adolph 'Bud' Herseth's passing this past year, but he was an incredible musical influence to us trumpet players--especially to the generation of brass players now at 'middle age' (& older), when we were growing up. His recording of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto is legendary. Recently I saw an interview on YouTube with Phil Smith, who also spoke very highly of Bud--his extensive impact on Phil's own orchestral playing & musicality, & even his encouragement for Phil to 'leave the nest' in Chicago to try his own hand at a principal trumpet chair in NY; & we NY-ers thank him very much for having given Phil that advice!

But I also want to mention the recent passing of another great trumpeter--who was by no means strictly a Classical player, but who often played with orchestras--probably more-so in a Jazz capacity: British trumpeter, Derek Watkins. While his name might not ring a bell for everyone, most people have actually heard a bit of his work without ever even realizing it; his trumpet-voice is the signature line in the 'James Bond' theme. He had also played on every James Bond soundtrack, from the very 1st 'Dr No' to the most recent 'Skyfall'. But his career in music was way more extensive than that, & I encourage anyone interested to research him further. There are also many good videos of him on YouTube--several of live concert footage with the James Last (pop) Orchestra. The great Dizzy Gillespie even apparently used to refer to Derek as 'Mr. Lead'. Unfortunately, he too died this past Spring, at the age of 68 from cancer.

...wishing everyone all the best for a happy & healthy New Year in 2014!

Dec. 26 2013 03:37 PM
Silversalty from Brooklyn

The discussion of Harold Shapero mistakenly includes the name "Fine" (Irving Fine - a friend of Shapero).

Dec. 26 2013 12:52 PM

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