The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Maestro Gustav Meier has died at 86. UW-Madison choral conductor Beverly Taylor pays tribute to him. | July 23, 2016

By Jacob Stockinger

The Ear has some catching up to do on several fronts.

Well, that is what happens in a city with such a busy musical life and in a year with so many news items.

And it also happens when you give priority to previews, then reviews and then trend stories, as The Ear likes to do.

Plus, there are only seven days in the week, which usually means just seven posts.

Anyway, one neglected or belated item is a generous piece — a recollection homage — that was kindly sent to The Ear by Beverly Taylor, the longtime director of choral activities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music and the assistant music director of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

Her remarks concern the death at 86 in late May of Swiss-born conductor Gustav Meier (below, in a photo by Doug Elbinger), who trained several other Madison-area musicians as well as her. Born in Switzerland, Meier was a quiet celebrity who trained many students at Yale University, the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and who led the Lansing Symphony Orchestra for 27 years.

(You can see and hear Gustav Meier conducting the Greater Bridgeport Symphony in the slow movement of Sergei Rachmaninoff‘s Symphony No. 2 in  the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Gustav Meier CR Doug Elbinger

Taylor (below) writes:

“Did you know Gustav Meier died in this year of losing so many?

“Maybe the others were more famous, but he was my teacher, mentor and friend from 1990 on, and we visited regularly.  I even coached the Beethoven Ninth with him a year ago, before our performance here.

“I wanted you to know how many people he influenced.  I wouldn’t have had the life I’d had without his help.  He was a GENEROUS musician and he was beloved.”

Beverly Taylor MSO portrait COLOR USE

Here is a link to a fascinating obituary, one that is well worth reading, in the Lansing, Michigan newspaper that Taylor shared:

http://lansingcitypulse.com/article-13267-%E2%80%98tchaikovsky-turns-me-on%E2%80%99.html

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2 Comments »

  1. Nice comment by K. Otterson.

    I suspect that the Maestro is representative of so many people in classical music who do not share in the headlines, in the top reviews, in the pots of money that “top artists” enjoy, but these people are really the backbone of classical music and the prime reason for its long-time success. It is not due so much to the headline makers, but to people like Maestro Meier. His headlines were written instead in people’s hearts.

    Comment by fflambeau — July 23, 2016 @ 9:37 pm

  2. Among his many accomplishments, I am so pleased to read about his nurturing of women conductors – besides our own Beverly Taylor – Marin Alsop and Carolyn Kuan. Breaking down those barriers…

    Comment by Kathleen Otterson — July 23, 2016 @ 7:46 am


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