Musicians We Lost in 2012

Grave of Rostropovich and his wife, Galina Vishvevskaya, Novodichevny Cemetery, Moscow(Photo:
Grave of Rostropovich and his wife, Galina Vishvevskaya, Novodichevny Cemetery, Moscow(Photo:

My mother used to call the obituaries The Irish sports page. I’m a devotee.

Here are the some of the musicians who died in 2012. As NPR reported, they made the world a better sounding place:

Alexis Weissenberg, piano,  July 26, 1929-January 8, 2012.

Gustav Leonhardt, harpsichord, conductor, early music maven, May 30, 1928-January 16,  16, 2012.

Paavo Berglund, conductor, April 14, 1929-January 25, 2012.

Camilla Williams, soprano, October 18, 1919-January 29, 2012
The first African-American artist to receive a long-term contract with a major opera company.

Roman Totenberg, violin, January 1, 1911-May 8, 2012 
Long-time and beloved faulty member at my alma mater, Boston University. I was privileged to attend his 100th birthday concert.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone, May 28, 1925-May 18, 2012
The most recorded classical singer. He made lieder popular world-wide.

Brigitte Engerer, piano, October 27, 1952-June 23, 2012

Evelyn Lear, soprano, January 8, 1928-July 1, 2012
A cantor’s granddaughter who became our most beautiful Mozart-Strauss soprano

Ruggiero Ricci, violin, July 24, 1918-August 6, 2012
Began as a child prodigy and went on to a 70 year career and more than 500 recordings

Hans Werner Henze, composer, July 1, 1926-October 27, 2012
The leading German composer of the post-World War II era.

Elliot Carter, composer, December 11, 1908-November 5, 2012
The cake had been ordered for his 104th birthday. Carter was the most original composer since Charles Ives.

Philip Ledger, conductor and composer, May 3, 1939-December 4, 2012
Best known in the States as the conductor of the Festival of Lessons and Carols every Christmas Eve, from King’s College, Cambridge.

Charles Rosen, pianist, writer, musicologist  May 6, 1927-December 9, 2012
Music lovers should know his books The Classical Style and The Romantic Generation

Lisa Della Casa, soprano February 2, 1919-December 10, 2012
The most beautiful Arabella ever-she made the first recording of Richard Strauss’s Four Last songs

Galina Vishnevskaya, soprano October 25, 1926-December 11, 2012
The most prominent Russian soprano to appear in the West. Britten’s War Requiem and Poet’s Echo were written for her. She starred in the film Alexandra at age 80. Msistislav Rostropovich’s widow.

Ravi Shankar, sitar and composer  April 7, 1920-December 11, 2012
Brought music of India to the world

Richard Rodney Bennett composer, pianist, singer, March 26, 1936-December 24, 2012
Wrote over 50 film scores including Murder on the Orient Express, for which he was nominated for an Oscar.