At the outset of 2011, which promises to be an exciting new year of performances, recordings, and rising stars, the classical editors at AllMusic pause to reflect on the lives of the significant musicians who passed away in 2010, and salute their varied achievements and fascinating careers.
Otmar Suitner(May 16, 1922 - January 8, 2010)
An Austrian conductor who rose to prominence in the 1950s, Otmar Suitner (left) concentrated on opera, and his work in the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Richard Wagner, and Richard Strauss established his reputation as one of the most innovative and refreshing interpreters in the field.
Earl Wild (November 26, 1915 - January 23, 2010)
A virtuoso pianist, arranger, and composer, Earl Wild was an heir of the Romantic piano tradition established by Franz Liszt and Sergey Rachmaninov. His repertoire was diverse and included both famous and obscure piano concertos, and his dazzling technical abilities made him a popular artist for decades, perhaps most memorably through his televised appearances with the Boston Pops.
Ariel Ramírez (September 4, 1921 - February 18, 2010)
Due to the success of his Misa Criolla, Ariel Ramírez became a successful crossover artist from the 1960s onward. His biggest hit appeared in 1964, just after the Second Vatican Council authorized the use of the vernacular in the Roman Catholic liturgy. Ramírez set the Spanish translation of the Mass to indigenous colors and rhythms of Latin America, and the work became an international sensation when it was recorded by Philips. Ramírez collected and published numerous Andean folk songs and composed as many as 400 original songs.
Richard Proulx (April ??, 1937 - February 18, 2010)
One of the most successful American liturgical composers, Richard Proulx was a major figure in the publication of music for many denominations. His achievements as a composer, conductor, and organist were acknowledged with many awards, and Proulx's published compositions include sacred and secular choral works, song cycles, two operas, instrumental and organ music, and hymns.
Philip Langridge (December 16, 1939 - March 5, 2010)
A world-class opera singer and recitalist, tenor Philip Langridge (right) was featured in a wide range of modern operas, particularly those by Benjamin Britten, Leos Janácek, and Igor Stravinsky. Praised for his bright and penetrating voice, Langridge's impressive vocal strength was matched by his impeccable diction.
Konrad Ruhland (February 19, 1932 - March 14, 2010)
A pioneer in the field of early music performance, Konrad Ruhland founded the Capella Antiqua München in 1956, creating an ensemble of young student singers that was one of the first groups to apply a historical approach to Renaissance and early Baroque music. Their long-range influence is evident in many historically informed performances today.
Giulietta Simionato (May 12, 1910 - May 5, 2010)
While she gradually found fame, Giulietta Simionato became recognized as the leading Italian mezzo-soprano from the 1950s until she retired in 1966. She dominated the stage in dramatic mezzo roles, but she also was prominent in the field of bel canto singing. Her coloratura may not have been as precise as that of later stars, but her vivaciousness made her ideal for comic opera.
Yvonne Loriod (January 20, 1924 - May 17, 2010)
A brilliant pianist, best known for her performances and recordings of 20th century piano literature, Yvonne Loriod (left) was especially praised for promoting the demanding music of Olivier Messiaen, to whom she was married from 1961 until his death in 1992, and Pierre Boulez. Her recordings were distinguished by her ability to produce meticulous rhythms at dazzling speeds and crystalline keyboard sonorities.
Giuseppe Taddei (June 26, 1916 - June 2, 2010)
Representing the tradition of Italian baritones in the post-WWII era, Giuseppe Taddei had a large and round voice that was at the service of an inventive musical imagination. Whether in a comic or dramatic role, Taddei found the right expressions to produce a believable characterization. His career was a long one: he debuted at the Metropolitan Opera when he was 69, and his robust interpretation of Falstaff was enthusiastically received.
Maureen Forrester (July 25, 1930 - June 16, 2010)
Although her repertoire ranged from the music of Johann Sebastian Bach to Francis Poulenc it was as an interpreter of the works of Gustav Mahler that Maureen Forrester is best remembered, particularly for her performances in the Symphony No. 2 in C minor, "Resurrection," and Das Lied von der Erde. Forrester's voice was a dark, rich contralto, but her fluid upper register allowed her to sing some mezzo-soprano parts by Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner. Forrester was Canada's most celebrated contralto.
Cesare Siepi (February 10, 1923 - July 5, 2010)
Cesare Siepi was one of the major operatic basses during the 1950s and '60s, prominent in roles at the Metropolitan Opera. His magnetic stage presence and dramatic gifts, as well as his powerful voice, made him one of the most beloved performers of his era. He was especially noted for his portrayal of dangerous operatic characters like Don Giovanni, Méphistophélès, and Mefistofile, but he was also effective in comic operas like Il barbiere di Siviglia and Le nozze di Figaro.
Simion "Syrinx" Stanciu (December 23, 1949 - July 6, 2010)
A popular performer of the Pan pipes, Simion Stanciu recorded transcriptions of many classical concertos as well as albums with crossover appeal.
Charles Mackerras (November 17, 1925 - July 14, 2010)
This eminent Australian conductor (right) was known for his broad repertoire and use of period performance practices with modern orchestras. Mackerras' reputation as a specialist in the music of the Classical era began with his 1965 production of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, in which he employed authentic performing styles in accordance with the practices of the period. Subsequent performances and recordings were highly influential in shaping the contemporary approach to early music. Mackerras was also recognized for his expertise in and promotion of Czech music, particularly for bringing the operas of Leos Janácek to the attention of Western audiences.
Anthony Rolfe Johnson (November 5, 1940 - July 21, 2010)
British tenor Anthony Rolfe Johnson was among the best known operatic stars of his generation. He had a distinctive high voice and was known for his very wide repertoire in opera, oratorio, and art song. He appeared with every major British opera company and in most of the world's leading houses, and left an extensive catalog of recordings.
Mitch Miller (July 4, 1911 - July 31, 2010)
Mitch Miller had a career as an oboist, conductor, record producer, arranger, and one of the most commercially successful recording artists of the '50s and early '60s. Miller's career with Columbia as head of Artists and Repertory was notable for the famous stars he worked with, including Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Rosemary Clooney. But it was with his own singers, the Sing-Along Gang, that Miller became a popular television star on the 1961-66 program, "Sing Along with Mitch."
Joan Sutherland (November 7, 1926 - October 10, 2010)
Soprano Joan Sutherland (left) was one of the most remarkable singers of the 20th century, gifted with a voice that combined Wagnerian heft with the light sparkle of a coloratura. Her extraordinary range extended from a contralto's low A to the F sharp above high C, and her technique was equally impressive, including trills, scales, and all of the virtuoso singer's most spectacular effects. Her breakthrough in a bel canto role was as Lucia di Lammermoor at Covent Garden in 1959, and her success prompted a major revival of this long-neglected style. With an international career that extended until 1990, Sutherland was one of the most important figures in opera, and she left a legacy of numerous recorded performances. She is survived by her husband, the conductor Richard Bonynge.
Rudolf Barshai (September 28, 1924 - November 2, 2010)
Initially known to Western audiences for his work with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble he founded, Rudolf Barshai later turned to directing many of the Soviet Union's leading orchestras in repertoire beyond the chamber works that brought him early recognition. He also found admirers for his completion of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 10.
Shirley Verrett (May 31, 1931 - November 5, 2010)
Shirley Verrett was one of America's finest opera stars and recitalists, representing the generation of great African-American singers who came to international prominence in the 1950s and 1960s. Possessing a rich, powerful voice, she began her career as a mezzo-soprano, but moved to dramatic soprano roles in the late 1970s. Although her large repertoire ranged from the Classical era to contemporary world premieres, she was best known for her roles in Romantic Italian and French opera.
Henryk Górecki (December 6, 1933 - November 12, 2010)
The public came to know Henryk Górecki (right) for a best-selling recording of his Symphony No. 3, "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs," performed by the London Sinfonietta and featuring soprano Dawn Upshaw, which climbed to the top of the charts in the early 1990s. Górecki was among the Eastern European composers who abandoned the avant-garde of the 1960s and emerged as a composer of emotionally charged and highly accessible works.
Helen Boatwright (November 17, 1916 - December 1, 2010)
An important soprano and educator for half a century, Helen Boatwright was also noted for her recordings of music by J.S. Bach and Charles Ives.
Hugues Cuénod (June 26, 1902 - December 6, 2010)
One of Switzerland's finest character tenors, Hugues Cuénod was extraordinarily long-lived. Nearly six decades after making his stage debut in a 1928 production of Ernst Krenek's Jonny Spielt Auf, Cuenod became the oldest person to debut at the Metropolitan Opera House when he appeared in Giacomo Puccini's Turandot at age 84. He was 92 at the time of his last performance, and lived on to age 108.
John Alldis (August 10, 1929 - December 20, 2010)
The British conductor and founder of the John Alldis Choir, Alldis was recognized for his large repertoire, which included many premieres of modern music. Alldis was a prominent figure in choral music from the 1960s until mid-1990s, and pursued a busy career that took him from his base in England throughout Europe and the U.S. to Israel and Japan.
Requiescant in pace.