Category Archives: Farewell to…

Notes on recently deceased artists in the Opera, Classical Music & Ballet world

Jon Vickers 1926-2015

Jon Vickers signed photo as Canio

Jon Vickers signed photo as Canio

On July 10, 2015 the legendary Canadian tenor Jon Vickers died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 88 years old. Although he had been retired for many years, his legacy of  uniquely dramatically and musically intense performances in a wide variety of roles in virtually of the world’s major opera houses made him cherished by several generations of opera lovers.

Jon Vickers signed photo as Canio

Most of his major roles have also been preserved on CD or DVD.

While he was particularly celebrated for his Wagnerian roles such as Tristan, Siegmund and Parsifal, his interpretations of the leading Italian and French heroic tenor roles such as Don Jose, Canio, Aeneas, Otello and Radames were also greatly admired. Particularly controversial was his interpretation of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes – one explicitly disavowed by the composer but quite likely responsible for that opera’s continued success and visibility over the past five decades.

Vickers was unique not only for his riveting physical acting (see in particular his Met performance of Otello co-starring a truly terrified Renata Scotto) but his expressivness with the text. Although large, his immediately recognizable voice also had a incredible ability to convey human suffering and pain – whether that of the unjustly imprisoned Florestan in Fidelio, the despised and rejected Peter Grimes or the betrayed Canio in Pagliacci. At the same time, its heroic qualities were evident not just in Wagner but as Otello, Aeneas in Les Troyens and even in much of the oratorio repertoire – such as his widely acclaimed recording of Handel’s Messiah conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.

Tamino Autographs is proud to salute the legacy of the great tenor Jon Vickers.

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Farewell to Claudio Abbado (1933-2014)

Claudio Abbado

Claudio Abbado (1933-2014), signed photo, shown young, conducting

Born in Milan in a family of musicians, Abbado made his debut at La Scala in his

Claudio Abbado (1933-2014), signed photo, shown young, conducting

hometown in 1960, later served as its Music Director for 18 years starting in 1968. Abbado left La Scala having founded the Filarmonica della Scala for the performance of orchestral repertoire, became the Music Director of another major opera house, the Vienna State Opera.

Starting in 1989, Abbadobecame associated with the Berlin Philharmonic, succeeding Herbert von Karajan   as the chief conductor, a position he held until 2002. Unfortunately, we lost him last Monday, January 20th, as he passed away in his home in Bologna.

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Farewell to conductor Colin Davis & mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens

Colin Davis (1927-2013), one of the most acclaimed British conductors of the last few decades, passed away in London last Sunday, April 14th. He was 85 years old. One of the most prolific conductors in terms of the number of recordings he left, Davis developed a direct relationship with some of the most important music institutions in the world: Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, BBC Symphony, Boston Symphony, NY Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra – just to name a few.

Rise Stevens (1913-2013), the American mezzo-soprano was almost 100 years old when she died last March 20th. Stevens was a leading mezzo- at the Met opera for over 20 years, became particularly famous for her interpretations of Carmen (see signed photo of her in that role on the right) in the 1950s, a role that was her farewell from the Met stage in 1961. She also excelled in radio and television and acted in a number of Hollywood films. After her retirement she coached a generation of singers at the Met Opera.

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Farewell to: Van Cliburn, American Classical Pianist

Van Cliburn and James Levine

Van Cliburn and James Levine, playing together the piano at a very young age

Van Cliburn and James Levine, playing together the piano at a very young age

Last Wednesday, February 27th, 2013, famous pianist Van Cliburn passed away at his home in Fort Worth, Texas. He was 78. Van Cliburn became a huge sensation in 1958, when at age 23 he won the first place in the First International Tchaikovsky Competition – Piano category in Moscow. This is one of the most reputable piano competitions in the world. This was viewed then as an American triumph over the Soviet Union at the peak of the cold war.

Van Cliburn developed an international career as a concert pianist, and in 1962 the First Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was held in Fort Worth, Texas, created by teachers in his honor. Van Cliburn himself was until his death the Director of the Van Cliburn Foundation, who hosts this internationally renowned competition. Held every 4 years, 13 editions have taken place since 1962, with the 14th being planned for 2017. By looking at the list of winners, we can mention Radu Lupu and Ralph Votapek, among others.

Van Cliburn gave concerts througout all his life, although his concert performances were very sporadic after the late 1970s when his father and his manager died. He left many great recordings, and will always be remembered for them, and for being a cultural hero. The Wall Street Journal once called him “the rare classical musician who enjoys rock star status”.

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Farewell to Wolfgang Sawallisch, German Conductor

Conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch (1923-2013) signed photo

Conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch (1923-2013) signed photo

We received the news that famous German conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch passed away

Conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch (1923-2013) signed photo

last Friday, February 24th in his home in Grassau, Germany. He was 89 years old.

Sawallisch was renowned throughout Europe, from 1960 through 1970 he was the principal conductor of the Vienna Symphony. Sawallisch spent 10 years as a Music director of the Bavarian State Opera, and later, the Philadelphia Orchestra (1993 through 2003).

 

Retired since the early 2000s, he remained associated with music by playing piano and committed to social engagement, a less-known side of his activities, creating the Wolfgang Sawallisch Foundation to support music study for local children.

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Farewell to Roger Gross (1938-2013)

We received the sad news that our dear friend and colleague Roger Gross passed away. Roger died peacefully at his home last Friday, January 4th, 2013. He  was not only a truly wonderful person but someone world-wide admired for his deep knowledge of opera and classical music and the business of music memorabilia.

We met him many times at the Metropolitan Opera, and to do business. It was always a pleasure to do so. He was not only one of the biggest experts in music autographs in the world but a huge fan of singing and singers. A collector himself, he had one of the largest inventories of autographs in the world, and was a true inspiration for many of us in the business.

He will certainly be missed. Read his NY Times obituary here

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Farewell to Lisa Della Casa, Galina Vishnevskaya & Charles Rosen

Lisa Della Casa - signed photo as ArabellaLisa Della Casa - signed photo as Arabella

LISA DELLA CASA (1919-2012) passed away last Monday, December 10th in Münsterlingen, Switzerland – her native country. She was 93, her passing was announced by the Vienna State Opera, where she frequently performed.  Della Casa performed at the major opera houses in Europe, and 4 different roles spanning 15 seasons at the Metropolitan Opera. Well-known for her beautiful voice and look, Della Casa was famous for her interpretations of Richard Strauss operas.

Shown over the right is a photo of her as Arabella

GALINA VISHNEVSKAYA (1926-2012) passed away last December 11th at age 86 in her native Russia. Vishnevskaya was the wife of the celebrated cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich. A very admired soprano, Vishnevskaya sang at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow for 23 years as well as many times abroad. In 2002 she founded the Galina Vishnevskaya Opera Center to promote young Russian singers.

Over the right: Vishnevskaya with her husband, M. Rostropovich

 

CHARLES ROSEN (1927-2012), American scholar-musician, pianist and author of the acclaimed book “The Classical Style” died last December 9th at age 85. Rosen was well known both as a writer/critic of classical music and pianist.

 

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Farewell to Hans Werner Henze (1926-2012)

Hans Werner Henze (1 July 1926 – 27 October 2012), the famous German composer has passed away at age 86 in Dresden. In a wide variety of styles, Henze wrote an impressive list of operas, music for theater and films, plus 10 Symphonies, 14 ballets, and a large number of pieces for chamber music ensembles, solo instruments and vocals (see full list here).

Henze´s autographs and programs are sought-after collectibles for those who loved his music

Tenor John Mark Ainsley talks about Hans Werner Henze’s last opera Phaedra (composed between 1997 and 2000), in which he sang the role of Hippolytus at the Barbican

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