Milton Babbitt, 1916-2011

Milton Babbitt has died, aged 94.

A huge figure in american music of the last fifty years, and a much-maligned and misunderstood figure and, by all accounts, a wonderfully warm and generous figure.

By sheer coincidence, I was today re-reading his article Who cares if you listen? (typically used by critics who haven’t read it as a stick to beat challenging music with), regretting not knowing his music better than I do, and wondering what he was writing now.

Time to rectify the lack of familiarity, at least.

RIP

RIP Yvonne Loriod

Yvonne Loriod has died, aged 86.

There is really not much more to say, beyond the fact that the shadow she casts as performer and pedagogue over the second half of the twentieth century is utterly unique, be it in the music of Messiaen (with which she is understandably so intimately connected) or the music of other composers such as Jean BarraquƩ.

Vale.

Loriod with Padromos Symeonidis

R.I.P. Philip Langridge

Sadly, British tenor Philip Langridge passed away last night at the age of seventy.

Today’s papers don’t seem to have published any obituaries, but I’ll link to some when they become available. For myself, suffice it to say that the epiphanic moment of understanding, when the qualities of the operatic works of Benjamin Britten suddenly became luminously clear, was solely due to the artistry of Philip Langridge.

I’m listening now to his remarkable recording, with the late Richard Hickox, of Britten’s Death inVenice.

Vale.

R.I.P. Leon Kirchner

Influential American composer Leon Kirchner has died at the age of 90.

Obituaries have appeared in the New York Times and on NewMusicBox. But more touching, I think, is Jeremy Denk’s heartfelt farewell.