In memoriam: Phyllis Curtin, soprano

Phyllis Curtin

Phyllis Curtin

Renowned American soprano Phyllis Curtin passed away on Sunday, June 5 at age 94. From 1974 to 1983, she taught voice at the Yale School of Music, overseeing the opera program. Curtin also served as Master (now Head of College) of Branford College from 1979 to 1983. Curtin was the first female Master of Branford College.

During her career on the stage in the 1950s and 60s, Curtin performed for the New York City Opera, as well as in many world-renowned opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Vienna State Opera, Covent Garden, and La Scala. Her repertoire included Verdi’s Violetta and Alice Ford, Strauss’ Salome, as well as Mozart’s heroines, for which she received much praise. The New York Times recently asserted that, “Ms. Curtin was noted for the purity of her voice, the sensitivity of her musical phrasing and the crystalline perfection of her diction.” MORE

Published June 11, 2016
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In memoriam: Robert E. Nagel Jr., trumpet

New York Brass Quintet From left: John Swallow, Allan Dean, Paul Ingraham, Robert Nagel, Thompson "Toby" Hanks

New York Brass Quintet
From left: John Swallow, Allan Dean, Paul Ingraham, Robert Nagel, Thompson “Toby” Hanks

Trumpeter Robert E. Nagel Jr. passed away on Sunday, June 5 at the age of 91. He was a member of the Yale School of Music faculty from 1957 to 1988, and was named Professor Emeritus in 1988.

He is best known as the founder and director of the renowned New York Brass Quintet. In addition to paving the way for brass chamber music, Nagel was an active and highly respected performer as well as a prolific composer. In 1959, Nagel founded a publishing company, Mentor Music, in an effort to make brass music more available to the public. He leaves a legacy of numerous seminal recordings such as the 1961 recording of L’Histoire Du Soldat (conducted by Igor Stravinsky) and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 (conducted by Pablo Casals).

Published June 9, 2016
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[ former faculty ]

Gunther Schuller Dies at 89; taught at Yale in 1960s

schuller_guntherNew York Times | By Allan Kozinn

Gunther Schuller, a composer, conductor, author and teacher who coined the term Third Stream to describe music that drew on the forms and resources of both classical and jazz, and who was its most important composer, died on Sunday in Boston. He was 89.

The cause was complications of leukemia, said his personal assistant, Jennique Horrigan.

Mr. Schuller, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his orchestral work “Of Reminiscences and Reflections” in 1994, was partial to the 12-tone methods of the Second Viennese School, but he was not inextricably bound to them. Always fascinated by jazz, he wrote arrangements as well as compositions for several jazz artists, most notably the Modern Jazz Quartet. Several of his scores — among them the Concertino (1958) for jazz quartet and orchestra, the “Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee” (1959) and an opera, “The Visitation” (1966) — used aspects of his Third Stream aesthetic, though usually with contemporary classical influences dominating. MORE

Published June 21, 2015
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[ in the press ]

New York Times notes passing of Ezra Laderman

laderman-bwNew York Times | By Margalit Fox

Ezra Laderman, an American composer who became widely known for his 1993 opera, “Marilyn,” which chronicled the waning days of Marilyn Monroe, died on Saturday at his home in New Haven. He was 90.

His death was announced by the Yale School of Music, where he was an emeritus professor and a former dean.

Mr. Laderman was a prolific composer of symphonic, chamber and vocal music, as well as a bevy of works for traditionally neglected instruments like the viola and the bassoon. But on account of its subject matter, it was “Marilyn,” commissioned to honor the 50th anniversary of the New York City Opera, that made him known to the general public. MORE

Published March 5, 2015
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[ in memoriam ]

In memoriam: composer Ezra Laderman, 90

Ezra Laderman

Ezra Laderman

Composer Ezra Laderman died Saturday, February 28, 2015 at the age of 90. His works included twelve string quartets, eleven concertos, and eight symphonies; six dramatic oratorios, music for dance, seven operas, and music for two Academy Award-winning films. In the words of Anthony Tommasini, “Mr. Laderman’s gruff, kinetic music mixes pungently atonal elements into a harmonic language that is tonally rooted and clearly directed.”

Laderman has been quoted as saying: “When I was very young, everything I wrote was tonal; and after that, atonal; and then serial. Finally, I’ve come back to tonality—but in a synthesized form, with the freedom to call upon all techniques.” A biography by Neil Levin notes: “He was led toward this synthesis in 1975, when he was commissioned to write an organ piece and composed a set of twenty-five preludes in different styles, each using a different technical or procedural approach and/or language: atonal, serial, dodecaphonic, tonal, expressionist, polytonal, modal, etc. When he heard those preludes performed without pause as a single work at the premiere, he realized that he could combine them all in a single, unified work. ‘Why segregate these aesthetic elements?” he later recalled asking himself. He described that realization as nothing short of “traumatic … it changed my life.’” MORE

Published March 1, 2015
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[ faculty ]

In memoriam: Richard Rephann, 82

Richard Rephann at the Collection of Musical Instruments

Richard Rephann at the Collection of Musical Instruments

Richard Rephann, harpsichordist and director emeritus of the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, died peacefully at Arden Courts Memory Care Community in Hamden, Connecticut, on 29 December 2014. A victim of Alzheimer’s disease, he was 82.

The elder son of Clarence Franklin Rephann and Thelma Louise Hamill, Richard Thaddeous Rephann was born on February 9, 1932 in Frostburg, Maryland. As a teen, he attended the Johns Hopkins University Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, where he studied piano under Mieczyslaw Munz and Alexander Sklarevsky.

His long association with Yale University began in the fall of 1961, when he became a harpsichord pupil of Ralph Kirkpatrick. Following the completion of a master’s degree in 1964, he received faculty appointments as Instructor in Harpsichord Playing in the School of Music and Assistant Curator of the Collection of (Historical) Musical Instruments. In 1968, he became Director of the Collection (a post he held for 37 years), while being appointed full Professor (Adjunct) of Organology and Harpsichord Playing in the School. MORE

Published January 9, 2015
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[ faculty ]

In memoriam: Claude Frank, piano

Frank_standing06Pianist Claude Frank died Saturday, December 27 at the age of 89. He was a member of the Yale School of Music faculty from 1973 to 2006, and was named Professor Emeritus in 2007. He was also a longtime member of the faculty of the Yale Summer School of Music/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.

In his long and distinguished career as a pianist, Claude Frank appeared with the world’s foremost orchestras, at major festivals, and at its most prestigious universities. He often performed with his wife, the late pianist Lilian Kallir, and gave joint recitals with his daughter, violinist Pamela Frank. MORE

Published January 7, 2015
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[ obituaries ]

In memoriam: William Gill Gridley, Jr., trustee of Battell Stoeckel Estate in Norfolk

Bill Gridley

Bill Gridley

William Gill Gridley, Jr., 85, died peacefully after a brief illness Saturday, November 29, 2014, at his Norfolk, CT home. A 1951 graduate of Yale College, he served for twenty years on the board of the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate, home of the Yale Summer School of Music and Art, in Norfolk, Conn.

Gridley was born January 10, 1929 in New York City. An investment banker by profession, Gridley began his career in 1953 at Chase Manhattan Bank, where he worked for 18 years before moving to American Express International Bank, where he was among the first western bankers to do business in China. In 1979 he went on to become president of Crescent Diversified Ltd. and Competrol BVI, the United States investment vehicles of the Olayan Group. He then served as president of Brandywine Investors Inc. Gridley served as CFO, then President and CEO of HYMEDIX Inc. and director of Lifestream Technologies, two health care start-ups. MORE

Published December 4, 2014
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[ alumni ]

In memoriam: composer Francisco F. Feliciano

Dr. Francisco F. Feliciano

Dr. Francisco F. Feliciano ’79 MMA, ’84 DMA

Seventy-three-year-old Dr. Francisco F. Feliciano 79’MMA, 84’DMA passed away after a long battle with cancer on Friday, September 19. He is considered one of the Philippines’ most important composers and was one of Asia’s leading composers in liturgical music.

Dr. Feliciano was given membership to the Order of National Artists for Music in June earlier this year in The Philippines. Dr. Feliciano was commissioned to write the opera “Amy,” a historical war account set in Leyte province, at the time he received the award. The Order is the highest state honor conferred on individuals deemed to have done much for their artistic field. MORE

Published September 30, 2014
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[ in the press ]

Musical America: Mitch Leigh Dies at 86

Musical America
via Associated Press

NEW YORK — Mitch Leigh, a successful advertising jingle writer with an exuberantly entrepreneurial side whose debut attempt at writing music for a Broadway show became the instant, celebrated hit Man of La Mancha and earned him a Tony Award, has died. He was 86.

Leigh died Sunday in New York of pneumonia and complications from a stroke. A memorial was held yesterday afternoon in Manhattan and all Broadway theater marquees will dim in his honor for one minute at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday.

“Mitch would have enjoyed every 60 seconds of that minute. He would have been honored. It’s really, really wonderful news on a day of gloomy news here,” his wife, artist Abby Leigh, said Monday. MORE

Published March 18, 2014
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