Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

December 12, 2012

Three musical titans pass on

Filed under: music,obituary — louisproyect @ 5:12 pm

Charles Rosen, Scholar-Musician Who Untangled Classical Works, Dies at 85
Published: December 10, 2012

Charles Rosen, the pianist, polymath and author whose National Book Award-winning volume “The Classical Style” illuminated the enduring language of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 85.

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Mr. Rosen at home in 2007.

The death, at Mount Sinai Hospital, was of cancer, said Henri Zerner, a friend of many years.

Published in 1971, “The Classical Style” examines the nature of Classical music through the lens of its three most exemplary practitioners. Given that these titans were working with the same raw materials — the 12 notes of the Western musical scale — as the Baroque composers who had preceded them, just what was it, Mr. Rosen’s book asked, that gave their music its unmistakable character?

full article

Galina Vishnevskaya, Soprano and Dissident, Dies at 86
Published: December 11, 2012

Galina Vishnevskaya, an electrifying soprano who endured repression and exile as one of the postwar Soviet Union’s most prominent political dissidents, died on Monday in Moscow. She was 86.

Galina Vishnevskaya in 1961, when she sang “Aida” at the Metropolitan, one of her rare appearances in the West at that time.

Erich Auerbach/Hulton Archive, via Getty Images
Ms. Vishnevskaya with her husband, Mstislav Rostropovich, in 1959.

Her death was confirmed by a spokesman for the Vishnevskaya Opera Center in Moscow.

Ms. Vishnevskaya, the wife of the celebrated cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, was renowned both as an emotional singer with a polished technique and as a charismatic actress. She had performed in operettas and music hall revues before joining the Bolshoi Theater of Russia, the country’s premier opera company.

At the Bolshoi she breathed new life into stodgy Soviet-era productions with dynamic interpretations of Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin,” Marina in Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” and Natasha Rostova in Prokofiev’s “War and Peace.” In 23 years at the Bolshoi, from 1952 through 1974, she performed more than 30 roles.

Though Ms. Vishnevskaya was rarely allowed to sing in the West at the height of her powers in the 1960s and ’70s, she drew rave reviews when she did. “Galina Vishnevskaya’s appearances at the Metropolitan Opera are like a comet’s, sudden, infrequent, capable of lighting up the sky,” Raymond Ericson wrote in The New York Times, reviewing her performance in the title role of Puccini’s “Tosca” in 1975.

In the mid-1970s, Ms. Vishnevskaya and Rostropovich were hounded by the Soviet authorities for their liberal political views and their friendship with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel laureate novelist and dissident.

In 1978, while traveling abroad, the couple were stripped of their Russian citizenships by the Kremlin. They were allowed to return to the Soviet Union and regain citizenship only in 1990 at the behest of President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the last head of state before the collapse of the Communist regime a year later.

full article

Ravi Shankar, Sitarist Who Introduced Indian Music to the West, Dies at 92
By Published: December 12, 2012

Associated Press
The Beatles’ George Harrison with Ravi Shankar in 1967.

Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitarist and composer whose collaborations with Western classical musicians as well as rock stars helped foster a worldwide appreciation of India’s traditional music, died Tuesday in a hospital near his home in Southern California. He was 92.

Mr. Shankar had suffered from upper respiratory and heart ailments in the last year and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery last Thursday, his family said in a statement.

Mr. Shankar, a soft-spoken, eloquent man whose performance style embodied a virtuosity that transcended musical languages, was trained in both Eastern and Western musical traditions. Although Western audiences were often mystified by the odd sounds and shapes of the instruments when he began touring in Europe and the United States in the early 1950s, Mr. Shankar and his ensemble gradually built a large following for Indian music.

full article

1 Comment »

  1. Thanks for this, Louis.

    Comment by manuelgarciajr — December 13, 2012 @ 7:24 am

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