Margaret Price, January 28
Welsh soprano Margaret Price emerged as an important opera star in 1962, appearing in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro as Cherubino. Subsequently, she included all of Mozart's important soprano roles in her repertoire. Despite her successful operatic career, she said that her childhood love was art song and that she always wanted to sing lieder. Accordingly, she gave recitals in virtually all the world's major venues. Price formed an artistic partnership with conductor and pianist James Lockhart, and their programs were noted for their variety. She was named a Bayerischen Kammersängerin, received a CBE in 1982, and in 1993 was knighted as a Dame of the British Empire.
Milton Babbitt, January 29
Composer Milton Babbitt was one of the most influential and polarizing figures in contemporary classical music. He was known for the uncompromising complexity of his work, which made strenuous demands of listeners and gained him a reputation as an exemplar of the kind of "difficult" academic composer whose music drove audiences out of concert halls. He was widely respected by colleagues for the rigor of his discipline and his intellectual integrity, and received a number of the music world's highest awards. He is frequently remembered for his 1956 article, Who Cares If You Listen? (the title of which he was not responsible for choosing), which suggested that, as was the case with physicists or mathematicians, it was not the concern of serious composers whether or not the general public understood their work.
John Barry, January 30
The always recognizable James Bond 007 Theme laid the foundation for John Barry's career as a film composer, although it seemed an inevitable calling, given his mother's talent on the piano, which ensured Barry's musical education, and his father's projectionist job, which ensured a love of the cinema. Barry not only created scores for Bond films between 1963 and 1987 (the music for 1962's Dr. No was something of a forced, and uncredited, collaboration), but also wrote or supervised memorable soundtracks for Born Free, The Lion in Winter, Midnight Cowboy, Out of Africa, and Dances with Wolves.
Eugene Fodor, February 26
Eugene Fodor was thrust into the spotlight of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1974, after becoming the first American violinist to win top honors in the Tchaikovsky Competition. He had won other competitions before, but this was the big one, and it gained him major concert appearances and a recording contract with RCA. Sadly, his stardom didn't last as long as it might have, due to a combination of overly slick marketing, artistic stagnation, and addictions to drugs and alcohol. He continued to perform occasionally with lesser known orchestras into the new century, and even recorded several albums of crossover and easy listening music.
Lee Hoiby, March 28
Composer and pianist Lee Hoiby was best known for his operas and songs written in the neo-Romantic tradition of Gian Carlo Menotti, his teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music. His first opera, a verismo one-act, The Scarf was given its premiere at the first Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds in 1957. His most frequently performed opera is Summer and Smoke, written in 1971 with a libretto by Lanford Wilson, based on the play by Tennessee Williams. The humorous, short mono-dramas, The Italian Lesson, a setting of a monologue by comedian Ruth Draper, and Bon Appetit!, based on Julia Child's cooking show, remain popular. Later in his career, Hoiby turned to Shakespeare, making settings of The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet.
Robert Tear, March 29
Robert Tear established a major singing career by mastering most areas of the tenor repertoire, performing on stage and in oratorios, as well as in song recitals. Tear made his debut in 1963 in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, and went on to sing in modern operas by Stravinsky, Henze, Tavener, Berg, and Penderecki. He expanded his creative range in performances of older operas by Handel, Mozart, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Strauss, and Puccini. In concert, Tear sang music from Monteverdi to Tippett, and he recorded a substantial number of albums, mostly for EMI, Decca, and Philips. In 1984, Tear was made a Commander of the British Empire.
Daniel Catán, April 8
One of the preeminent Latin American composers of his generation, Daniel Catán was born in Mexico and educated in England and at Princeton, where he was a student of Milton Babbitt's. His own musical style, though, was lushly romantic and lyrical. He was known primarily for his operas, and his Rappaccini's Daughter was the first opera by a Mexican composer to be produced professionally by a U.S. company, at the San Diego opera in 1994. His most frequently performed work is Florencia en El Amazonas, based loosely on an episode from García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera. Plácido Domingo was a strong advocate of his music and sang the role of Pablo Neruda in the San Francisco Opera's 2010 premiere of Catán's Il Postino.
Peter Lieberson, April 23
Peter Lieberson was among the most respected American composers of his generation. For most of his career, his music reflected the modernist aesthetic of his teachers Milton Babbitt, Charles Wuorinen, and Donald Martino, but his later work became more freely expressive and broadly lyrical. He was deeply influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, and a number of his works have Buddhist themes. He came to prominence in 1983 with his Piano Concerto, written for Peter Serkin. His orchestral song cycle, Neruda Songs, which he had written for his wife, mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in 2005, won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition in 2008. Hunt Lieberson's recording of the songs with James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.
Bernard Greenhouse, May 13
The Beaux Arts Trio was arguably the first established piano trio to perform and record as regularly, and with as great a reputation, as most world-class string quartets. The trio was founded in 1955 by violinist Daniel Guilet, pianist Menahem Pressler, and cellist Bernard Greenhouse. Greenhouse retired from the Trio in 1987, but in those 30-plus years, he also performed as cellist with the Bach Aria Group and taught continually into his nineties. When Greenhouse graduated school, there wasn't much call for cello soloists, especially for one whose playing was disciplined and not as flashy as a violinist's. The collaborative setting of a trio, and of the orchestras in which he performed, suited his talent perfectly.
Giorgio Tozzi, May 30
At home in both opera and musical theater, Giorgio Tozzi debuted on Broadway in the 1948 American premiere of Britten's opera The Rape of Lucretia, and then sang in London in the musical, Tough at the Top. From there, Tozzi studied on the continent, and appeared in La Scala's 1953 production of Catalani's La Wally. Tozzi joined the Metropolitan Opera in 1955, and remained with the company until 1973. In 1957, Tozzi starred in South Pacific in San Francisco, opposite Mary Martin. He was also on the soundtrack of South Pacific, providing the singing voice of Rossano Brazzi in the film. During his tenure at the Met, Tozzi taught at the Juilliard School in New York City. In 1991, became a professor at the Indiana University School of Music.
Josef Suk, July 6
Czech music and chamber music were the two types of music for which violinist Josef Suk was renowned, fitting genres for the grandson of composer Josef Suk and great-grandson of Antonín Dvorák. For many years, Suk was first violinist with the Prague Quartet, and he formed the Suk Piano Trio in 1951, named for his grandfather. He also played viola for quintets with the Smetana Quartet. Suk still found time to perform as a concerto soloist and conduct his own chamber orchestra. His recordings received a number of awards, one of which was for Berg's Violin Concerto in 1968.
Cornell MacNeil, July 15
A mainstay at the Metropolitan Opera, Cornell MacNeil possessed a round bass-baritone voice that carried many roles, and he was one of the last of the true dramatic Verdi baritones. After study at the Hartt College of Music, MacNeil sang in Broadway musicals before he created the role of John Sorel in Menotti's The Consul in Philadelphia in 1950. He made his debut with the New York City Opera in 1953, and moved on to sing at La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera. MacNeil's large, resonant voice found a congenial home at the old Met and, later, in the even larger new theater. In addition to the great Verdi roles for which he was so well-suited, he mastered verismo roles by Puccini and Zandonai. In addition to his performing career, MacNeil served as president of the American Guild of Musical Artists beginning in 1969.
Salvatore Licitra, September 5
Italian tenor Salvatore Licitra impressed critics with his rich voice and confident technique, and his short-notice replacement at of an ailing Luciano Pavarotti in Puccini's Tosca marked his debut at the Metropolitan Opera. Having appeared in a number of small roles throughout Italy, he triumphed as Gustavo in Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera C 39550 in Verona in 1998. Encouraged, Licitra auditioned for La Scala, securing a role in Verdi's La Forza del Destino, and consequently sang in a number of La Scala productions worldwide. As Manrico in an Il Trovatore production during the 2000-2001 season, Licitra was part of La Scala's celebration of the centennial of Verdi's death. In 2000, Licitra made his first Sony Classical recording singing music by Bizet and Puccini. Licitra's promising career was cut short when he died following a moped accident in Sicily.
Sena Jurinac, November 22
Sena Jurinac was one of the most acclaimed and beloved sopranos to emerge in post-war Europe. She was born in Croatia and made her professional debut in Zagreb, but quickly moved on to major stages such as the Vienna State Opera (where she sang for 40 years), the Salzburg Festival, La Scala, Covent Garden, Edinburgh, and Glyndebourne. Her voice extended into the mezzo-soprano range, and early roles included Pamina, Cherubino, Dorabella, Donna Elvira, Mimi, and Octavian. Later in her career she gravitated toward roles like the Countess, Donna Anna, Desdemona Madama Butterfly, Tosca, the Marschallin, and Marie in Wozzeck. Among her many recordings was the first recording of Strauss' Four Last Songs.
Montserrat Figueras, November 23
Spanish soprano Montserrat Figueras was a leading figure the early music revival of the late 20th century. She had a special interest in the music and cultures of the Iberian Peninsula, particularly the interaction of music from Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. She was married to the conductor, gamba player, and scholar Jordi Savall, with whom she collaborated on many projects. They were among the founders of the early music ensemble Hesperion XX (which became Hesperion XXI at the turn of the century) and they also established the ensembles La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations. She made over 60 recordings, many on the Alia Vox label. In 2008 UNESCO recognized Savall and Figueras as "Artists for Peace."
Minoru Miki, December 8
Minoru Miki's music combined traditional, Western Classical forms with traditional Japanese instruments, frequently on a large scale. He founded the Pro Musica Nipponia, an orchestra consisting entirely of Japanese instruments, and composed a series of historical operas. Concertos for koto, for pipa, and for shakuhachi; chamber music for both Japanese and Western instruments; and film music are found in his catalog as well, plus the Symphony for Two Worlds, commissioned by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra for its bicentennial. In his later works, Miki also used instruments of other Asian countries as his music explored the historical relationships between Japan and its neighbors.