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In Memoriam 2018





31 March 2018 


Michael Tree - renowned Violist in the Guarneri String Quartet - In Memoriam

New York City USA



            American violist Michael Tree has passed away – aged 83.

           A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Leah Luboshutz, Veda Reynolds and Efram Zimbalist, Mr Tree was a founding and long term member of the Guarneri Quartet and the Marlboro Trio.

           He had played extensively throughout the world – and recorded more than 80 chamber music works.


“From the first time I heard Michael Tree 63 years ago, I knew that I was in the presence not only of an outstanding instrumentalist but of a remarkable artist as well …” violinist Arnold Steinhardt has told The Violin Channel.

“It was my great privilege to have made music with Michael in the Guarneri String Quartet for a blissful forty-five years,” he has said.

“The world lost a great musician … I lost a dear friend when Michael Tree passed away earlier today … to me, he was the most wonderful colleague, a frequent combatant on the tennis court and a fellow Yankees fan,” Juilliard School faculty member, violinist Cho-Liang Lin has said.

Throughout his career, Mr Tree held teaching positions on faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, Bard College Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music, University of Maryland School of Music and Rutgers University.

Our condolences are with his family, friends, colleagues and students.



24 March 2018




José Antonio Abreu, creator of renowned Venezuelan El Sistema and the youth orchestra programs, achieving worldwide acclaim - In Memoriam



Caracus, Venezuela


                     José Antonio Abreu, a Venezuelan government economist turned musical educator who created a network of youth orchestras that has been replicated in dozens of countries around the world, died March 24. He was 78.

                  His death was announced by the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, where his brother Jesús Abreu is president. No cause was given, but Mr. Abreu had been known to be battling several illnesses ever since he retired from El Sistema, as the musical education program is known, a few years ago.

                Mr. Abreu was the teacher to generations of Venezuelan classical music performers, most notably Gustavo Dudamel, musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

              “The Venezuelan people that you so loved today are crying for you Maestro,” Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said in a statement. “We are comforted by knowing that your legacy will remain alive in the hands and voices of the children of the youth orchestras.”

              Born in the western city of Valera on May 7, 1939, El Maestro, as Mr. Abreu was almost universally known in Venezuela, studied music from an early age. But he initially put his artistic aspirations on hold to become an economist, teaching at two universities in Caracas, and later entering politics.

             Well into his 30s in 1975, he formed a small orchestra of a dozen young musicians that would become the seed for El Sistema, or the System. Four decades later, the government-financed program claims to currently put 1 million Venezuelan children in contact with classical music through a network of hundreds of youth choirs, orchestras and music centers spread across the country.

             Internationally, its teaching model has spread to more than 60 countries, while its marquee Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra is a fixture in top-flight concert halls from New York to London.

But more recently the sterling reputations of the institution — and Mr. Abreu — have taken a hit as a result of the program’s close ties to Maduro, whose socialist administration has been accused of undermining Venezuela’s democracy.

           In 2014, amid a wave of deadly anti-government unrest, Mr. Abreu and Dudamel appeared alongside Maduro on national TV celebrating a recent European tour and reviewing blueprints for the government-funded “Dudamel Hall” designed by L.A.-based architect Frank Gehry.

         Around the same time, the book “El Sistema: Orchestrating Venezuela’s Youth” by British musicologist Geoffrey Baker was published, describing Mr. Abreu as a politically cunning, autocratic and vengeful visionary as much feared as loved. The book also faulted El Sistema for fostering a culture of top-level corruption, favoritism and improper sexual relations between teachers and pupils.

          Mr. Abreu never publicly responded to the criticisms as he retired from public view shortly after the book’s publication. But El Sistema disputed Baker’s characterization and Mr. Abreu’s many backers, include even some government critics, said it overlooked his musical achievements and the successful building of one of the few institutions in Venezuela to have endured almost two decades of polarizing, socialist rule.




2 March 2018




Jesús López Cobos - former Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Teatro Real in Madrid - In Memoriam


Berlin, Germany


               The Spanish conductor Jesús López Cobos has died in Berlin at the age of 78.

               López Cobos held several music director positions at leading orchestras throughout a long and successful career. He was the Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 1986 to 2001, making several highly-regarded recordings for Telarc, and later became their Conductor Emeritus. López Cobos was also General Music Director of the Deutsche Oper in Berlin from 1981 to 1990, Music Director of the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra from 1991 to 2000 and Music Director of the Teatro Real in Madrid from 2003 to 2010. 

             Among his most highly regarded recordings for Telarc with the Cincinnati SO were a Respighi disc, including Church Windows, Brazilian Impressions and Roman Festivals, of which Gramophone's Michael Oliver commented: 'if every colour is precisely rendered, the quiet passages as affectionately turned as they are here (and it's surprising how much of this score is quiet), what skill there is to be found in it, what a gift for immaculately precise instrumental detail.'

            In fact, it was often López Cobos's superb ear for instrumental balance, colour and detail that separated his recordings and performances from those of other conductors. His recording of Shostakovich's First and 15th Symphonies, also with the Cincinnati SO, drew high praise from Gramophone's David Fanning: 'By dint of careful preparation López Cobos brings exceptional clarity to the First Symphony‚ forcing you to admire afresh the sheer inventiveness of the teenage Shostakovich’s counterpoint.'

           The recording of the 15th Symphony was singled-out by Philip Clark in his Gramophone Collection article surveying every recording of the work in 2008. Clark called the recording 'A valuable blueprint, full of fastidious orchestral detail and an ear for a good narrative. A faithful rendering of Shostakovich's intentions.'


                           In 1983, López Cobos made a great live recording of Verdi's Messa da Requiem with soloists Margaret Price, Livia Budai, Giuseppe Giacomini and Robert Lloyd with the London Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra. 'Central to the experience,' wrote Gramophone's Richard Osborne, 'is the 43-year-old Spanish born Jesús López Cobos, whose conducting has fire, grace and an enviably unselfconscious feel for the work's musical and spiritual dynamic.'

                   From López Cobos's time at Teatro Real in Madrid there are several outstanding DVD/Blu-ray performances, including Verdi's La traviata, Puccini's La bohème, and a wonderful Cav & Pag. The La traviata DVD was an Editor's Choice in September 2006. Alan Blyth remarked that 'López Cobos conducts an interpretation notable for yielding support of his singers combined with dramatic dash, and the Madrid orchestra play as though their lives depended on the results. No wonder this staging has received so much praise in Spain.'

                  López Cobos was active right up until his death, indeed his website still lists performances that he was due to give in the coming months, including Verdi's Aida and Un ballo in maschera at the Vienna State Opera. 


A Tribute to his legacy by VIP Pascual Martinez-Forteza, 2nd Clarinetist in the New York Philharmonic


               Today is a very sad day. One of the best conductors of our time and one of the best persons I have known just left us. I will always be thankful for the enormous opportunity you gave me when I was only 25 years old to be part of the great Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Those 3 years under your baton were one of the most exciting and rewarding of my career. I remember my 1st rehearsal with you and the CSO when you stopped the orchestra to fix something in the clarinet section and you said “well, finally I can speak Spanish with somebody in this orchestra” and you started telling me what to do in Spanish. You where like a father figure to me those years and I am sure I wouldn’t be in the New York Philharmonic now without all the things I’ve learn from you. I hope to see you in heaven some day and make music together again.


Rest In Peace my dear Jesús

My Maestro



2 January 2018



Carmine Campione - clarinetist with the Cincinnatti Symphony orchestra, 40 years an Adjunct Professor of Clarinet at the College Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati - In Memoriam


              Carmine Campione is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, 37 years a clarinetist with the Cincinnatti Symphony orchestra, 40 years an Adjunct Professor of Clarinet at the College Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati. A renowned teacher and author of several books that have been a staple in pedagogical content benefitting students for decades past.




1 January 2018





Robert Mann, Founding member of the Juilliard String Quartet - In Memoriam


New York City USA


                      Robert Mann, the founding first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet, the internationally renowned ensemble that at midcentury helped engender a chamber music revival throughout the United States, died on Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 97.


                     His death was announced by Debra Kinzler, associate director of the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation, of which he was president from 1971 to 2015.

Conceived in 1946, the Juilliard quartet gave its first official performance the next year. Besides Mr. Mann, the original roster included the second violinist Robert Koff, the violist Raphael Hillyer and the cellist Arthur Winograd.


                    Mr. Mann — for decades the quartet’s de facto spokesman, institutional memory and “resident spark plug,” as The Chicago Tribune called him in 1997 — remained with the ensemble for 51 years. By the time he retired in 1997 he had outlasted the entire original lineup, as well several subsequent permutations, to become one of the longest-serving members of any chamber group in the world.



                   From the beginning, the Juilliard Quartet was known for its probing musicality (the group once devoted two full rehearsals to a single measure from Elliott Carter’s Third String Quartet); hard-driving style, which for all its passionate intensity was considered refreshingly unsentimental; and deep commitment to contemporary music.


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