Goodness but we’re really going through a bad time, with musical personalities dying off left right and centre. Latest to add to the list is Van Cliburn, who died this morning aged 78.
The New York Times has an extensive obituary online, which naturally enough gives a lot of space to the pianist’s win at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958 and his triumphant homecoming to a New York ticker-tape parade.
This time it’s a conductor, namely Wolfgang Sawallisch, who died on Friday. I always find it sad when Wikipedia updates a page after somebody’s death and changes everything to the past tense, as it has now done in the case of Sawallisch.
I’ve only just now heard the news, which comes with a link to an obituary from The Philadelphia Inquirer, which may seem an unlikely source until one remembers that Sawallisch was Music Director there from 1993 to 2003. A quick Google search brings up many other obituaries and tributes, of which this one from a close friend and colleague is rather special. The Phildelphia Inquirer has also followed up on its obituary with a separate page of tributes.
His career has been long (he would have been 90 later this year), and his reputation has been assured for some time, not just as a conductor, but also as a highly accomplished and sensitive Lieder accompanist. I’m off now to look through my collection for whatever I have by him. A little bit of a personal tribute seems appropriate.