The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Here is a year-end look back at the classical music performers and composers we lost in 2013, including pianist Van Cliburn and British composer John Tavener. | December 30, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

Even as we look forward to a New Year, it is a traditional to look back at the various classical musicians -– performers and composers and even some prominent scholars or musicologists -– that we lost during 2013.

At the top of everyone’s list is probably the acclaimed but enigmatic American pianist Van Cliburn (below top) and the British composer John Tavener (below bottom, in a photo by Steve Forrest).

van cliburn old

John Tavener composing Steve Forrest Insight-Visual

The famed New York City City radio station WQXR-FM has put together a good “in memorium” slide show. Here is a link:!/story/memoriam-classical-musicians-who-died-2013/

Something new, I think, is also an overview of classical music in 2013 that includes awards and works as well as deaths on Wikipedia:

APOLOGY FOR A MISTAKE: As a reader alerted me, the Polish composer Krzysztof Pedereecki is NOT DEAD but is still living and recently turned 80. I mistakenly thought he had died at 80 and I apologize for the error. I changed the headline, but I am leaving in some material because it is so good. So here are fine appreciations, with audio clips, of Penderecki (below) by NPR weekend host Arun Rath and NPRDeceptive Cadence’ blog director Tom Huizenga:

krzysztof penderecki

Locally, of course, as well as regionally, nationally and even internationally, the most memorable death in music education was that of Marvin Rabin (below), the 97-year-old founder of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra. His memorial service was yesterday. Here is a link to my appreciation of him:

marvin rabin BW

Are there other “departures” — or deaths or passings or losses — pick your term — you know of?

Do you care to leave an appreciation or comment?

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. Under the banner of local and international vocal artist, Ilona Kombrink:


    Comment by Allan Deptula — December 30, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

    • HI Allan,
      Of course — what a wonderful addition to add Ilona Kombrink of the UW School of Music.
      She was a wonderful singer, a wonderful teacher and a wonderful woman. So she certainly deserved to be on the year-end list. I apologize for the oversight.
      Thank you for your thoughtfulness.


      Comment by welltemperedear — December 30, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

      • Dear Jake, You do so much so well. It was a year of significant losses in talent and numbers of artists. It is no lack on your side. I recall Dave Wagner’s comments in a review of Ilona’s performance in MSO & Chorus 1970 production of ‘Israel in Egypt’: ‘…despite the obvious hazards, 2000 roses should be placed at her doorstep each morning’. A tad extravagant but a worthy recompense for her artistry. Best wishes to you for a grand new year. Allan


        Comment by Allan Deptula — January 1, 2014 @ 4:19 pm

  2. Thanks, Jake, for all your good work throughout the year! A happy confirmation on Penderecki…I had dinner with pianist Lambert Orkis last evening, who performed with Anne-Sophie Mutter at Carnegie Hall on the 14th. At that concert, Anne-Sophie played the world premiere of Penderecki’s La follia for solo violin, with the composer present in the audience. A magnificent concert that I wish everyone could have heard!


    Comment by Marilyn Cooley — December 30, 2013 @ 10:04 am

  3. I was so disappointed yesterday because I wanted to attend the Rabin memorial service, but even though I arrived early I would have had to park as far away as SaBaiThong which would have been too far for me to negotiate. I’m so sorry that it wasn’t held in a more accessible place. There must have been an overflow audience, and I wonder how many others were met with disappointment.


    Comment by Susan Young — December 30, 2013 @ 8:49 am

  4. Hold the phone! As far as I know, Penderecki is still living!


    Comment by Andy Olson — December 30, 2013 @ 7:11 am

    • Hi Andy,
      OMG — I checked and you are absolutely right.
      I am so embarrassed.
      He turned 80 recently, but I thought he had died at 80.
      I apologize for the serious factual error and corrected the blog post. I changed the heal dine but left in some fine appreciations of him all the same.
      Thank you so much for reading and replying with your factual correction.
      I promise to try to do better in the future.
      Happy New Year to you with my gratitude.


      Comment by welltemperedear — December 30, 2013 @ 7:51 am

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