It’s only Wednesday, but this week has already brought great losses to the arts, in the deaths of pianist and musicologist Charles Rosen, sitar guru Ravi Shankar, milestone soprano Gloria Davy, soprano and Strauss icon Lisa Della Casa, and Soviet soprano Galina Vishnevskaya. They’ll all be missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends. As we do, whenever possible, when global notables leave this world, we’ll collect links to the various articles and obituaries here. Please contact us if you have more links to add, or if you find any dead links.
(May 5, 1927 – Dec 9, 2012)
Pianist and author of The Classical Style and many other titles
His training was in piano (a “grandstudent” of Liszt) and French, but although Rosen was not trained in musicology, he is often referred to as a musicologist, for his mammoth contributions to music education and the almost legendary status of some of his books. A skilled and sensitive pianist, he gave music history the performer’s perspective, and that was clearly his first priority — he often referred to writing as a hobby. Rosen died of prostate cancer in New York City.
Slipped Disc, “Could there ever be another Charles Rosen?“
Wall Street Journal, “Charles Rosen: Master of Piano and Prose“
Washington Post, “Charles Rose, pianist, author and polymath, dies at 85“
(Apr 7, 1920 – Dec 11, 2012)
Sitar master and evangelist of Indian music
The sitar master was introduced to the world through George Harrison and the Beatles, but his reach extends far beyond classical Indian music. Dynamic performer, beloved teacher and the consummate artist, news of Shankar’s death has built to a global crescendo. According to a statement on his website, Shankar died in San Diego after battling upper respiratory and heart problems.
(Mar 29, 1931 – Nov 28, 2012)
Soprano and opera pioneer
The first African-American to play “Aida” at the Met, Davy became a symbol of change as more roles opened up for minorities and diversity slowly became the norm on the operatic stage. She sang regularly at the Met for about three years, and then was active in Europe and other points abroad after the 1960s. Known for her spinto sound and her interpretations and recordings of 20th-century music, she told Opera News, “For sheer joy of singing, there’s nothing like opera.” She died in Geneva at the age of 81.
New York Times, “Gloria Davy, First African-American to Sing Aida at the Met, Dies at 81“
Boston Globe, “Gloria Davy, 81, soprano of 20th-century music“
(Mar 29, 1931 – Nov 28, 2012)
Soprano of Strauss, Mozart and more
Known as one of opera’s great beauties, the Swiss soprano built an astonishing career, primarily in post-war Europe with her natural elegance and great artistry, and was known particularly as a fine interpreter of Richard Strauss’ work. (Her Ständchen still rings in my ears from the vinyl of college days.) She died on Monday in Münsterlingen, Switzerland.
New York Times, “Lisa Della Casa, Soprano, dies at 93“
(Oct 25, 1926 – Dec 11, 2012)
Soprano, teacher, actress and dissident
One of the most beloved Russian singers of her generation, Vishnevskaya was an unforgettable opera singer and noted recitalist. Married to cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, the pair left the Soviet Union in 1974 to settle in the US and France, but returned to Moscow in later life, where she died and will be buried near her husband, who died in 2007. The embodiment of diva appeal, she was the vocal inspiration for Britten’s War Requiem and the voice in the definitive recording of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtensk. She started her own Center for Opera Singing in 2002, and was widely lauded as an extraordinary, intuitive teacher. In recent years, she played a Russian grandmother in Alexandra, a film featured at Cannes in 2008, a fitting completion to a varied and unique career.
The Independent, “Acclaimed soprano Galina Vishnevskaya dies“
New York Times, “Galina Vishnevskaya, Soprano and Dissident, Dies at 86“