Golden Oldies

From CCARH Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Golden Oldies is a collection of partial studies of highly skilled musicians who are performing in public beyond the age of 90. Its ultimate focus is to identify both cognitive and physical factors contributing to the preservation of musical memory.

Subjects are identified by initials only. Materials found here are not available for re-use without express written permission of the subjects or their next-of-kin.

Professional musicians (named) performing publicly

Gary Graffman

The classical pianist Gary Graffman (b. 1928) has always moved among the giants of his field. As the winner of a competition, he soloed with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra in Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto. His studies had began at the Curtis Institute, Philadelphia. They continued with Rudolf Serkin (Marlboro Music Festival) and Vladimir Horowitz. His flourishing career was modified during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, when Graffman became one of the first professional musicians to boycott segregated concert halls. Many colleagues followed his example.

To accommodate focal dystonia, a neurological problem he developed in the 1980s, Graffman began to specialize in repertory for the left hand alone and devoted his time to teaching at Curtis, where his students included Lang Lang and Yuja Wang. In 1986 he was named director of the Institute, a post he held until 2006. He continues to teach at Curtid.

Dionisio Lind

The carillonneur Dionisio Lind (10 February 1931-10 October 2018) was captivated by the sound of the bells at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Harlem (NY), in the 1950s. He took lessons there and began his official career as the church's carillonneur in 1960. He progressed to well that the church sent him to the Royal Carillon School in Mechelen, Belgium, in 1962. In 2000 he was invited to move to the Riverside Church, overlooking the Hudson River, at 120th St., where he served as principal carillonneur until his death.

The church, modeled on Chartres Cathedral, carillon's 74 bells range in weight from 10 pounds to 20 tons. (This Bourdon is the heaviest in the world and uniquely reaches an octave lower than any other instrument of its kind.) Lind explains the bells and plays the carillon in this 2011 video by Allison Davis, published by by the New York Daily News.

Roberta Mandel

Roberta Mandel (29 December 1920 - 5 September 2017) performed as a jazz pianist for 75 years. She was also an arranger and composer. She had a special gift for transcribing by ear the arrangements she heard on recordings. She credited the extensive knowledge of harmony that she gained from studies of classical music. Her facility enabled her to arrange big-band numbers for solo piano. She held two degrees from the California State University at San Francisco (where she was raised). Her first teacher was her mother, a pianist.

Mandel's longest engagement (32 years) was with the 18-member Junius Courtney Big Band, which was noted for its arrangements. Mandel is the rightmost figure in the Big Band photo (2011). A frequent venue was the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley. This venue, which offers open nights for jazz improvisation, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018.

Among her other credits, Mandel was the first female pianist to sit in with Count Basie's band. Her 1982 transcription of Billy Strayhorn's "Blood Count" from the Duke Ellington Orchestra's recording is preserved in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian. No copies of her book of compositions, Jazz Tunes for Friends (2001), are publicly accessible. This memoir from Jazz Now appeared in 1990.

Zuzana Ruzickova

The world-renown harpichordist Zuzana Ruzichkova (Pilsen, 14 January 1927 - Prague, 27 September 2017) was a noted interpreter of Bach. Her musical interest was evident from an early age. She seemed destined for a musical career after winning the ARD International Music Competition in Munich (1936). She declined a place on a Kindertransport train (a rescue train for Jewish children) to Britain in 1939, but accompanied her parents (who ran a big toy store in Prague) to Terezin in 1942, where her father died. She and her mother were later moved to Auschwitz, where she was spared from the gas chamber twice--in the second case by the Allied invasion of occupied Poland. Together with her mother, she repaired oil pipelines in Hamburg before being shipped, months before the end of the war, to Bergen-Belsen.

She attended the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague from 1947 to 1951 and made more than 100 recordings. Her project to record all of Bach's music for harpsichord occupied her from 1995 to 2005. Although she stopped performing publicly after the death of her husband (the composer Viktor Kalabis) in 2006, she continued teaching. In a BBC interview in 2016 she reflected on her survival as a musician, saying "It is not enough to be an extraordinary musician....You have to have the feeling that you cannot live without music." This message will be elaborated in the forthcoming film Zuzana: Music is Life, which is being made under the auspices of the Viktor Kalabis-Zuzana Ruzickova Foundation.