Buddy DeFranco - Legend Jazz Clarinetist of the last
Century - In Memoriam
Panama City, Florida USA
Buddy DeFranco, one of the most virtuosic and musically accomplished
clarinetists in the history of jazz, died Wednesday night in Panama City, Fla.,
said his wife of 44 years, Joyce DeFranco. He was 91.
DeFranco, more than anyone, brought the clarinet into the rarefied realm
of bebop. As Charlie Parker did with alto saxophone, Dizzy Gillespie with
trumpet and J.J. Johnson with trombone, DeFranco proved that his instrument
could finesse the extraordinary technical hurdles of bebop music of the 1940s.
DeFranco also had copious performance and recording experience, working
with Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Oscar Peterson, Billie Holiday and practically
everyone else of his era. He won the country's most prestigious jazz honor, the
National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship, in 2006.
DeFranco last performed publicly at age 89, said his wife. A public
celebration of his life will take place next year, she added.
Buddy DeFranco is one of the great
clarinetists of all time and, until the rise of Eddie Daniels, he was indisputably the top
clarinetist to emerge since 1940. It was DeFranco's misfortune to be the best on an
instrument that after the swing era dropped drastically in popularity and,
unlike Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, he has never been a household name for
the general public.
When he was 14, DeFranco won an amateur swing contest sponsored by
Tommy Dorsey. After working with the big bands of
Gene Krupa (1941-1942) and Charlie Barnet (1943-1944), he was with TD on and off during 1944-1948. DeFranco, other than spending part of 1950 with
Count Basie's septet, was mostly a bandleader from
then on. Among the few clarinetists to transfer the language of Charlie Parker onto his instrument, DeFranco has won a countless number of polls and
appeared with the Metronome All-Stars in the late '40s. He
recorded frequently in the '50s (among his sidemen were Art Blakey, Kenny Drew, and Sonny Clark) and participated in some of Norman Granz's Verve jam session. During 1960-1963
DeFranco led a quartet that also featured the
accordion of Tommy Gumina and he recorded an album with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers on which he played
bass clarinet. Work, however, was difficult to find in the '60s, leading
DeFranco to accept the assignment of leading the
Glenn Miller ghost band (1966-1974). He has found
more artistic success co-leading a quintet with Terry Gibbs off and on since the early '80s and has
recorded throughout the decades for many labels.
2 November 2014
Acker Bilk: Legendary jazz clarinettist, who
personified the trad jazz revival of the 1950s and '60s - In Memoriam
Clarinettist Acker Bilk, who personified the trad jazz revival of the 1950s and
'60s, has died after a lengthy illness at the age of 85.
His most famous song Stranger on the Shore was the UK's biggest selling
single of 1962 and made him an international star.
Born Bernard Stanley Bilk, he changed his name to Acker - Somerset slang for
"mate" - after learning to play the clarinet in the Army.
His last concert was in August 2013.
Pamela Sutton, who was Bilk's manager for 45 years, said he had "been ill for
some time", adding: "He was my great friend and his music was legendary."
Stranger on the Shore was the UK's biggest selling song of 1962
Born in Pensford in Somerset, Bilk tried a number of different careers before
borrowing a clarinet and copying recordings of famous jazz musicians while in
He formed his first band in Bristol after his demobilisation.
Known for his goatee, bowler hat and fancy waistcoat, Bilk was awarded an MBE
in 2001 for services to the music industry.
He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2000 but recovered and continued to
play concerts, the last of which was at the Brecon Festival last year.
US number one
Bilk told the BBC in a 2012 interview that when he wrote his biggest hit
Stranger on the Shore, he did not immediately realise it was special.
The instrumental made him the first artist to have a simultaneous
chart-topping hit in both the United Kingdom and the United States.
Bilk formed his first band after leaving the Army
"I didn't think it was much different from any of the rest of it," he said.
"It was just a thing that came out of my head, that's all. I didn't sort of
work on it or do much at all with it."
Besides Stranger on the Shore, Bilk also had hits with tunes such as Summer
Set and Buona Sera.
He sold millions of records and won an Ivor Novello award.
'One of the great earworms'
"RIP ol' liquorice stick,"
broadcaster Danny Baker on hearing the news, describing Bilk as a "good
jazzer & eternal answer to question: 'What UK artist had 1st number one in
McMillan also paid tribute to the musician, describing him as the "creator
of one of the great earworms. That shore was strange, but memorable."
Kenny Ball Junior, whose father Kenny Ball played alongside Bilk, said he had
fond memories of the two of them playing together.
"He was such a wonderful player," he told the BBC. "He conquered everywhere.
He was such a lovely bloke, a very genuine guy."
Bilk leaves his wife Jean, daughter Jenny and son Pete.
24 May 2014
David Weiss, Renowned
Principal Oboist in the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chamber Artist, and Faculty at
Academy of the West - In Memoriam
Los Angeles, California USA
Academy of the West president Scott Reed on Sunday
issued the following statement regarding the death of celebrated oboist David Weiss, a
longtime faculty member at the renowned classical music institution:
“David Weiss was a man of formidable musical gifts who exuded magisterial charm
on stage and off,” Reed said. “Ever the consummate professional, David reveled
in all the details and challenges of great music-making, demonstrating time and
again that exceptional performances are borne of an uncompromising commitment to
“Also a man of extraordinary warmth, David was unfailingly generous with his
time, and took much pride in the development of his students. He will be sorely
internationally recognized master of the musical saw, he was also an
accomplished photographer whose work had been widely published. He served as the
official photographer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for nearly 30 years.
The Weiss Family
Woodwinds, which also included his wife, Alpha Hockett Walker
(piano); his sister, Dawn Weiss (flute);
and his brother, Abe Weiss
(bassoon), performed throughout the country for many years.
the Music Academy from 1962 to 1964, and was named an academy faculty member in
David Weiss, a professor of oboe and woodwind chamber music at the USC Thornton
School of Music since 1985, was principal oboist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
from 1973 to 2003. His first of many solo performances with the orchestra was in
1962 at age 15. Mr. Weiss also has performed as a soloist at Carnegie Recital
Hall, New York’s Caramoor Festival, Avery Fisher Hall, and the
Kennedy Center. Between 1966 and 1973 he held first-chair positions with the
National Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Metropolitan Opera National
Company, and the West Point Band. Mr. Weiss has recorded numerous symphonic
works conducted by Bernstein, Dorati, Giulini, Leinsdorf,
Mehta, Previn, and Salonen, and can be heard
on the soundtracks for well over 150 motion pictures. Mr. Weiss and his wife,
pianist Alpha Hockett Walker (together known as “DnA”),
perform recitals regularly in the United States and abroad.
Mr. Weiss taught for many years at the Henry Mancini Institute and has been a
frequent guest teacher at the New England Conservatory, the Manhattan School of
Music, Sarasota Music Festival, and International Double Reed Society
conferences. (He serves on the society’s executive committee.) In addition, he
serves as cover conductor for the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra. Mr.
Weiss received a Living the Legacy Award from the Young Musicians Foundation at
a Los Angeles gala last year. He’s been affiliated with the organization for 50
years, including serving as chairman of its Music Advisory Board for 17 years
and performing with the YMF Debut Orchestra from 1961 to 1965.
internationally recognized master of the musical saw, Mr. Weiss also is an
accomplished photographer whose work has been widely published. He served as the
official photographer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for nearly 30 years.
Weiss attended the Music Academy from 1962 to 1964 and has been an Academy
faculty member since 2002.
Paul LAMAZE - Acclaimed
Clarinetist and Solo Clarinetist in the Basel, Switzerland Orchestra - In
Paul LAMAZE, clarinet (1953-2014) we have the sadness to inform you that
Paul Lamaze died May 7. Born in 1953, he obtained a first prize at the Paris
Conservatoire in 1974 with the Theme and Variations of Françaix (along with
Edwige Giot, first female winner of the Paris Conservatory, and Alain
P. Lamaze had obtained a second in 1979 prize at the Geneva competition. He
was principal clarinet of the Basel Symphony Orchestra.
12 March 2014
Ray Still -
Solo Oboist and Soloist Emeritus with the Chicago Symphony - In Memoriam
Orchestral and chamber musician, soloist with countless
ensembles, and lifelong teacher and coach
Ray Still—a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s
oboe section for forty years, serving as principal for
thirty-nine years—died peacefully on March 12, 2014,
surrounded by family in Woodstock, Vermont. He was 94.
Born on March 12, 1920, in Elwood, Indiana, Still began
playing clarinet as a teenager. During the Great Depression,
his family moved to California, where he was able to
regularly hear performances of the
Los Angeles Philharmonic as a volunteer usher. After
hearing the masterful technique and elegant phrasing of
Busscher—principal oboe in Los Angeles from 1920 until
1948—Still switched to the oboe.
Still graduated from Los Angeles High School and at the age
of nineteen joined the Kansas City Philharmonic as second
oboe in 1939, where he was a member until 1941 (and also
where he met and married Mary Powell Brock in 1940). For the
next two years, he studied electrical engineering, served in
the reserve US Army Signal Corps, and worked nights at the
Douglas Aircraft factory. During the height of World War II,
Still joined the US Army in September 1943 and served until
June of 1946.
Fritz Reiner and
the newest members of the Orchestra in the fall of 1953.
From left to right: Nathan Snader, violin; Juan Cuneo,
violin; Joseph Golan, violin; Alan Fuchs, horn; Ray
Still, oboe; Sheppard Lehnhoff, viola; and János
In the fall of 1953, Still auditioned for
Fritz Reiner, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s recently
named music director. Reiner invited him to be the
Orchestra’s second-chair oboe and the following year
promoted him to the principal position. Still would serve
the Orchestra in that capacity—under music directors Reiner,
Sir Georg Solti, and
Daniel Barenboim—until his retirement in 1993.
Still appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as
soloist on countless occasions, including the Orchestra’s
first performances of works for solo oboe by Albinoni, Bach,
Barber, Mozart, Richard Strauss, and Telemann. His extensive
discography includes Bach’s Wedding Cantata on
Kathleen Battle as soloist and
James Levine conducting, and Mozart’s Oboe Concerto in C
Deutsche Grammophon with
Claudio Abbado conducting.
Following his retirement from Northwestern, he moved to
Annapolis, Maryland—where he continued to give master
classes and lessons—with his beloved wife Mary and son James
to live near his daughter Susan. In 2013, he moved to
Saxtons River and later Woodstock, Vermont, where he lived
near Susan, his granddaughter Madeline, and her two
Still is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Mimi and
Kent Dixon of Springfield, Ohio; his son and
daughter-in-law, Tom and Sally Still of Big Timber, Montana;
his daughter and son-in-law, Susan Still and Peter Bergstrom
of Saxtons River, Vermont; six grandchildren, and three
great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death in 2012 by his
wife of almost 72 years, Mary Brock Still, and his son James
When interviewed for an article in the Chicago
Tribune in 1988, Still was asked why he thought the
Chicago Symphony Orchestra was the world’s greatest. His
reply: “It’s like a great baseball team. We have a blend of
youth and experience, and they work very well together. A
lot of orchestras have this. The thing that makes the
Chicago Symphony Orchestra very unusual is the tremendous—I
hate to use the word—discipline. There is a certain pride,
and I think it goes back to the days of
Theodore Thomas, the founder. There is something about
the tradition of this Orchestra and the level the main body
of musicians has come to expect of itself. There’s just a
longer line of tradition.”
Freeman, Bass Clarinetist in the New York Philharmonic - In
Bass Clarinetist Stephen Freeman, one of the most acclaimed
Players in the New York Philharmonic and a major icon as
part of one of the most potent Clarinet sections of any
major Orchestra, represented a major standard found in
performance. Having been in the Philharmonic for over
40 years, he has performed under the great Conductors
including Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Zubin
Mehta, Kurt Mazor, Loren Maazel, and Daniel Gilbert along
with countless Guest Conductors. Below is a biography
from the New York Philharmonic (to be upgraded soon) showing
his story and attributes before he retired in 2009, the same
time as Stanley Drucker and Loren Maazel.
20 January 2014
Claudio Abbado, one of the Great Conductors of the
last Century and Conductor of the London Symphony, The Berliner Philharmoniker,
the Vienna Philharmonic, the Orchestra of La Scala, the Chamber Orchestra of
Europe, the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and avid supporter of Young Musicians - In Memoriam
The Italian conductor Claudio Abbado has died in
Bologna after a long illness, aged 80. He was one of the most revered conductors
in the world, thanks to a glittering career with a huge variety of different
The news comes the week after it was announced that his Orchestra
Mozart was to close.
Abbado studied music at the Milan Conservatoire during his early years.
He was well-known for his interpretations of opera, and began his opera career
in 1960, making his debut at La Scala in his hometown of Milan.
Since then, he went on to conduct legendary ensembles like the Vienna
Philharmonic, Vienna State Opera, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Halle
Orchestra. He was principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra from 1979
He was then made chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, succeeding
Herbert von Karajan, where he remained until 2002. The turn of the century saw
him suffer from a bout of stomach cancer, however, and his health had been a
worry throughout his later life.
After a recovery from stomach cancer, he formed the Lucerne Festival
Orchestra in 2003. Ill health continued to plague Abbado, though, and he was
forced to cancel a comeback concert at La Scala in 2010, which was to celebrate
the 50th anniversary of his first appearance there.
It was announced only last week that the Orchestra Mozart, of which
Abbado had been chief conductor, was to close 'temporarily'. Abbado had
cancelled several concerts in the previous season due to ill health.
The great Italian conductor Claudio Abbado blazed a trail
around the world – from La Scala Milan to the London Symphony Orchestra,
from Chicago to Vienna and Berlin. He was known for his Germanic orchestral
repertoire as well as his interest in Rossini and Verdi.
26 June 1933 – 20 January 2014
Chief Conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker 1990 – 2002
We mourn the passing of an extraordinary musician and human
being. His love for music and his insatiable curiosity were an
inspiration to us and have left their mark on our music-making since his
first concerts with us in 1966. We are proud to be able to number him
among our chief conductors and be part of his musical legacy. His death
is a tremendous loss for all of us. The Berliner Philharmoniker pay
tribute to Claudio Abbado with deep love and gratitude.
Sir Simon Rattle pays tribute to the colleague: “We have lost
a great musician and a very generous man. Ten years ago we all wondered
whether he would survive the illness which has now claimed him, but
instead, he, and we as musicians and public, could enjoy an
extraordinary Indian Summer, in which all the facets of his art came
together in an unforgettable way.
He said to me a few years ago, ‘Simon, my illness was
terrible, but the results have not been all bad: I feel that somehow I
hear from the inside of my body, as if the loss of my stomach gave me
internal ears. I cannot express how wonderful that feels. And I still
feel that music saved my life in that time!’
Always a great conductor, his performances in these last
years were transcendent, and we all feel privileged to have witnessed
them. Personally, he was always immensely kind and generous to me, from
my earliest days as a conductor, and we kept warm and funny contact
together even up to last Friday. He remains deep in my heart and