Recent necrology, August-September 2014

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Frans Bruggen, 1934-2014
    Dutch conductor, recorder player and baroque flautist
  • Mary Cadogan, 1928-2014
    English author who wrote on popular and children’s fiction
  • Graham Joyce, 1954-2014
    British writer of speculative fiction
  • Bill Kerr, 1922-2014
    Australian actor and comedian
  • John Ritchie, 1921-2014
    Music educator, composer and conductor, ‘father’ of Christchurch music
  • Joan Rivers, 1937-2014
    American actress, comedian, writer and TV host
  • David St John Thomas, 1929-2014
    English publisher and writer who founded David & Charles publishing house
  • Eoin Young, 1939-2014
    New Zealand motoring journalist

Recent necrology, July 2014

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Cover of The Garner FilesCarlo Bergonzi, 1924-2014
    Opera singer whose glorious style, phrasing and tone made him the epitome of Italian vocal art
  • James Garner, 1928-2014
    Actor who breathed new life into the Western genre and excelled as the hero of the Rockford Files
  • Nadine Gordimer, 1923-2014
    Masterly liberal South African novelist who chronicled her country’s journey from apartheid to troubled democracy
  • Cover of The ConservationistCharlie Haden, 1937-2014
    Double bass player who drew on his country music roots to master a bewildering range of jazz styles
  • Anthony Hobson, 1921-2014
    Bibliophile and scholar aesthete who won the admiration of Cyril Connolly
  • John Leach, 1931-2014
    Composer and cimbalom player who helped create the jarring ‘sound’ of the Cold War for The Ipcress File
  • Cover of What Is On Top?Ray Lonnen, 1940-2014
    Actor whose TV career spanned 50 years and who was best known for his role as an undercover agent in Ulster
  • Lorin Maazel, 1930-2014
    Conductor who ranged across the classical repertoire and became the first American and the first Jew in the postwar period to conduct at Bayreuth
  • Louis Zamperini, 1917-2014
    American Olympian and airman whose extraordinary tale of endurance after being shot down was the subject of the bestselling book Unbroken

Recent necrology, June 2014

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Cover of Best Poems on the UndergroundGerard Benson, 1931-2014
    Poet who brought Hardy and Milton, Auden and Yeats to the London Underground
  • Patsy Byrne, 1933-2014
    Actress with the RSC who later played the dim-witted Nursie in Blackadder
  • Felix Dennis, 1947-2014
    Hedonistic publisher behind Oz and The Week who dreamed of being a great poet but found his true forte was making money
  • James Douglas-Home, 1952-2014
    Racehorse trainer and writer who castigated the new Ascot racecourse as one of the ‘world’s worst dumps’
  • Cover of Night Night Spot!Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, 1933-2014
    Spanish-born conductor of German parentage who blended Teutonic precision with Iberian sensuality
  • Peter Matthiessen, 1927-2014
    Author, naturalist and reluctant CIA agent who gave up espionage to champion a different kind of wild life in his bestseller The snow leopard
  • Rik Mayall, 1958-2014
    Anarchic comedian who took on the British Establishment in The young ones, and The new statesman
  • Josephine Pullein-Thompson, 1924-2014
    Author whose pony club novels thrilled a generation of girls with the jolly adventures of the gymkhana set
  • Cover of Regal Records Live in New OrleansJimmy Scott, 1925-2014
    Jazz singer who was later in Twin Peaks
  • Horace Silver, 1928-2014
    Jazz pianist and composer behind Latin and hard-bop tunes that became post-war standards
  • Eli Wallach, 1915-2014
    Masterly and versatile actor of stage and screen who particularly delighted in playing villains
  • Bobby Womack, 1944-2014
    ‘Soul survivor’ of an astonishingly lurid lifestyle who fused passionate gospel and dulcet crooning

Bruno Walter: Conductor

Bruno Walter died on this day in 1962.

The life of this great conductor Bruno Walter centred around music from a young age. His musical mother taught him piano and by age nine he was ready to attend the Stern Conservatory of Music in Berlin. At thirteen his piano playing was such that he was ready to launch a career as a pianist, but attendance at a concert conducted by Hans von Bülow changed his mind. He decided to be a conductor instead.

It wasn’t long before he found himself at the Hamburg Opera assisting Gustav Mahler, considered at the time as one of Europe’s leading interpreters of opera.  After moving on to Breslau, Riga and Berlin, he rejoined Mahler in 1901 as assistant conductor of the Vienna Imperial Opera. They worked closely together for the next 6 years. Consequently he became a leading interpreter of Mahler’s work (whose 7th Symphony is to be played in Christchurch later this year by the NZSO).

His successful career continued until 1933 when Liepzig’s anti-Semitic municipal authorities forbade him to conduct and the Nazis declared him “politically suspicious”. He then moved to Austria where he became principal conductor and artistic adviser of the Vienna State Opera until the annexation, at which point he emigrated to America. The Americans welcomed him with open arms and he lead a distinguished career there.

He recorded extensively right from the 1930s until the days of stereo, so many recordings are still available and you can listen to his characteristically mellow and lyrical style – something more typical of pre-war Vienna than todays more standardised international style. A comparison of his interpretation of the Bartered Bride by Smetana with a more modern one makes the brilliant tone our modern version sound almost shockingly clinical.

Naxos and Music Online contain many of his recordings from throughout his career.