In Their Own Words: Inspiring Quotes From Classical Artists, Members of the Arts Community, and Colleagues Who Died in 2021

By Candice Agree and Keegan Morris |

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2021 was a year of great loss in the worlds of classical music and the arts. In this respect, 2021 was not different from the years preceding it. The coronavirus pandemic again amplified our grief. As we reflect on the year gone by, Classical WFMT salutes the contributions of members of the arts community who died this past year. We commemorate and celebrate the lives of these artists by allowing them to speak directly to us. May their memories be for a blessing.

First, however, we at WFMT remember with thanks and great appreciation members of the WFMT and WTTW family.

Nicolette Ferri

Award-winning and longtime WTTW producer (Sneak Previews, Soundstage, Legends of Jazz, and David Broza at Masada: The Sunrise Concert), 61

Nicolette Ferri works with Jim Cuvy

Jim Mabie

Longtime WTTW/WFMT Trustee and Board Chair and exemplar of philanthropy, 85

Jim Mabie in 2018 (WTTW)

RELATED: Jim Mabie, Longtime WTTW-WFMT Trustee and Board Chair, Dies at 85

Ilene Patty

Devoted, beloved, and longtime WFMT supporter and volunteer, 68

Ilene Patty [R] and her husband Tom Terpstra [L] at a WFMT event in 2019

In Their Own Words

Kenneth Cooper

American harpsichordist, pianist, and musicologist, 79
“Oh, I enjoy improvising a lot. I always enjoy making trouble.”

Kenneth Cooper’s recording of Scarlatti’s Sonatas for Harpsichord

Chick Corea

American jazz composer, keyboardist, and bandleader, 79
“You don’t have to be Picasso or Rembrandt to create something. The fun of it, the joy of creating, is way high above anything else to do with the art form.”

Chick Corea at the 2019 Zelt-Musik-Festival (Photo: Ice Boy Tell, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Carlisle Floyd

American composer prominent in opera, 95
“You can’t possibly predict what will last or not. But once you attempt to write for the ages, you’re doomed.”

George W. and Laura Bush present the National Medal of Arts award to Carlisle Floyd (2004)

Nelson Freire

Brazilian pianist, 77
“Like everything in life, music works through love”

Nelson Freire

Bernard Haitink

Dutch conductor, 92
“I’m a musician, a conductor. I’m lost for words.”

Bernard Haitink conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

Bernard Haitink conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

READ MORE: Stories about Bernard Haitink

Jeanne Lamon

American-Canadian violinist and conductor, 71
“I’m too in love with playing the violin, and out of love with the power-trip that conducting can bring on in many people… I think I’m safe as a violinist. It keeps me very honest having to play the parts myself, rather than to tell someone else how to do it and not making any sounds.”

Jeanne Lamon (Photo: Sian Richards)

Mario Lavista

Mexican composer, 78
“Being in front of a blank piece of paper always causes me the same insecurity that I felt 40 years ago.”

CDMX Secretary of Culture Eduardo Vázquez Martín [L] with composer Mario Lavista [R] (Photo: Secretaría de Cultura de la Ciudad de México from México, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Christa Ludwig

German mezzo-soprano, 93
“I find it sad when one cannot get away from work – it is ridiculous.”

Christa Ludwig (Photo: Franz Johann Morgenbesser from Vienna, Austria, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Michael Morgan

American conductor, 63
“Many of the art forms and entertainments that we have in the world are aimed at one slice of the population. They’re aimed at a specific age; they’re aimed at a specific race; they’re aimed at a specific ethnicity. There’s not a conscious effort to bring people together across those different lines.”

Michael Morgan (Photo courtesy the Sacramento Symphony)

Stephen Sondheim

American composer and lyricist who reinvented the Broadway musical, 91
“I have never taken overviews. Whither Broadway? I don’t answer the question. Who knows. I don’t really care. That’s the future. Whatever happens will happen.”

Stephen Sondheim

WFMT airs a tribute to Stephen Sondheim on January 4, 2022. Read more stories about Sondheim here.

Mikis Theodorakis

Greek composer, primarily in film (Zorba the Greek, Serpico), 96
“If I had not experienced what I experienced, I would not have written this music. Music for me has never been an end in itself, it is something that I have lived.”

Mikis Theodosakis

WFMT Also Remembers

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Medea Abrahamyan: Armenian cellist and pedagogue, 88
Tasso Adamopoulos: French violist (Rotterdam Philharmonic, Gulbenkian Foundation, Orchestre national de France) and pedagogue, 76 (from COVID-19)

Tasso Adamopoulos (Photo: SADAMO, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Mildred Allen: American soprano, 91
Louis Andriessen: Dutch composer and pianist, 82
Karan Armstrong: American soprano, 79

Karan Armstrong

Norman Bailey: British bass-baritone, 88
Simon Bainbridge: British composer, 68
Sándor Balassa: Hungarian composer and pedagogue, 86
Carmen Balthrop: American soprano, and professor of voice, 73
Ilona Bartalus: Hungarian pedagogue and conductor, 80
Dmitri Bashkirov: Russian pianist, 89
Steuart Bedford: British conductor, 81
Edward Berkeley: American opera director, 76
Marianne Blok: Panama-born Dutch soprano, 80
Wolfgang Boettcher: German orchestral cellist, 86 photo
Claude Bolling: French jazz-classical pianist, composer, and arranger, 90
Martin Bookspan: broadcaster; longtime host of arts programming for television and radio programs, including Live From Lincoln Center, Live From the Met; Music Director and Program Director of WQXR, 94
Ottomar Borwitzky: German orchestral cellist, 90
Jean-Patrice Brosse: French harpsichordist and organist, 71
Joanna Bruzdowicz: Polish composer, 78
Reinhold Johannes Buhl: German cellist, 87
Charles Burles: French tenor, 85
Sylvano Bussotti: Italian composer, 87

Sylvano Bussotti (Photo: Monobelus, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

James Buswell: American violinist, 74

Joan Carlyle: British soprano, 90
Joel Chadabe: American electronic and experimental composer, 82
Corinne Chapelle: USA-born French violinist, 44
Susan Clickner: American mezzo-soprano and academic vocal teacher, 86
Robert Cogan: American composer, theorist and teacher, 91
Michel Corboz: Swiss conductor, 87
Eva Coutaz: German-born French prolific record producer (Harmonia Mundi), 76
Gordon Crosse: British composer, 83
Brian Culverhouse: British record producer, 93
Biserka Cvejić: Serbian mezzo-soprano and pedagogue, 97

Biserka Cvejić

Louis Dandrel: French music journalist, composer, administrator, and sound designer, 82
Peter G. Davis: American opera and classical music critic, author of The American Opera Singer, 84
Alfredo Diez Nieto:
Cuban composer, conductor, and pedagogue, 102
Libuše Domanínská: Czech soprano, 96
Renée Doria: French soprano, 100
Thierry Dran: French tenor, 67

Osian Ellis: Welsh harpist, 92 photo

Osian Ellis (Photo: David Griffiths, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Roger Englander: American classical music television director and producer (Young People’s Concerts), 94

Emilia Fadini: Spanish-born Italian harpsichordist, musicologist and pedagogue, 90
Taryn Fiebig: Australian soprano, 49
Rocco Filippini: Swiss cellist, 77 (from COVID-19)

Jean-Marie Gamard: French cellist and pedagogue, 78
Paul Ganson: American orchestral bassoonist, 79
Robert Gard: UK-born Australian tenor, 90
Gianluigi Gelmetti: Italian conductor, 75
John Georgiadis: British orchestral violinist and leader, and conductor, 81
Giuseppe Giacomini: Italian tenor, 80
Raymond Gniewek: American violinist and past concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, 89
Henri Goraieb: Lebanese pianist, 85
Clifford Grant: Australian bass, 90
François Grenier: French harpsichordist, 39
Edita Gruberová: Slovak soprano, 74

Edita Gruberová (Photo: Franz Johann Morgenbesser from Vienna, Austria, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Andréa Guiot: French soprano, 93
Jonas Gwangwa: South African trombonist, composer, and anti-Apartheid activist, 83

Maarja Haamer: Estonian soprano, 82
Cristóbal Halffter: Spanish composer and conductor, 91
Hans Haselböck: Austrian organist, composer, writer and pedagogue, 93
Richard Hoffmann: American composer and educator, 96
Amanda Holden: British librettist, writer, translator and pianist, 73
Andrej Hoteev: Russian pianist, 75

Andrej Hoteev (Photo: Christian Geisler, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Elaine Hugh-Jones: British composer, 93

Miah Im: Canada-born opera coach and academic pedagogue resident in the US, 47
Paolo Isotta: Italian musicologist and writer, 70

Trisutji Djuliati Kamal: Indonesian composer, 84
Gerard Kantarjian: Egypt-born Canadian orchestral violinist and pedagogue, 89
Paul Kellogg: American arts administrator (former General and Artistic Director of New York City Opera and Glimmerglass Opera), 84
John Kinsella: Irish composer, 89
Kazimierz Kowalski: Polish bass and opera administrator, 70
Béla Kovács: Hungarian clarinetist, 84
Jean Kraft: American mezzo-soprano, 94

Theodore Lambrinos: American baritone whose Rigoletto was the historical first performance of opera in Hanoi, Vietnam, 85 (from COVID-19)

Theodore Lambrinos as Rigoletto (Photo: Theodore Lambrinos and Hallie Neill, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Paul Laubin: American oboe maker, 88
Guido Lamell: American violinist and conductor, 68
James Levine: American conductor and pianist, 77
András Ligeti: Hungarian violinist and conductor, 68
Jan Willem Loot: Dutch orchestra administrator, 77
Mark Lubotsky: Russian violinist, 89
Alvin Lucier: American composer, 90

Alvin Lucier (Photo: Non Event, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Ester Mägi: Estonian composer, “First Lady of Estonian Music,” 99
Lou Magor: American choral conductor, pedagogue and pianist, 75
Jane Manning: British soprano, 82
Alexander Maykapar: Russian harpsichordist, organist, pianist, writer, broadcaster, music historian and pedagogue, 74
Siegfried Matthus: German composer, 87
Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera: Italian opera director, 72
Michael McClelland: American orchestral violist (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Opera, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Champaign-Urbana Symphony), former assistant professor of music at the University of Illinois, 62
Kevin McCutcheon: American conductor, 66 (from COVID-19)
Vladimir Mendelssohn: Romanian-born orchestral violist active in The Netherlands, 71

The Enesco Quartet, with violist Vladimir Mendelssohn center (Photo: See page for author, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Ghenady Meirson: Ukrainian-born pianist, pedagogue, and vocal repertoire coach, (Curtis Institute), 63
Bliss Michelson: American classical music radio announcer (WRTI) and double bassist, husband of Peggy Wiltrout (see below), 74 (from COVID-19)
Aga Mikolaj: Polish soprano, 51 (from COVID-19)
Elijah Moshinsky: Australian opera director resident in the UK, 75 (from COVID-19)

Günter Neubert: German composer, 85
Yevgeny Nesterenko: Russian bass, 83 (from COVID-19)
Fritz Noack: German organ builder, 85

Igor Oistrakh: Russian violinist, 90
James Orent: American violinist and conductor, 67
Lou Ottens: Dutch engineer and inventor of the compact cassette tape, 94

Lou Ottens (Photo: Jordi Huisman, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Luis de Pablo: Spanish composer, 91
Christopher Parker: British recording engineer for EMI Abbey Road, 95
Joan Parets Serra: Catalan musicologist, 81
Anthony Payne: British composer, 84
Wayne Peterson: American composer, 93
Carl Pini: Australian violinist, conductor and pedagogue, 87
Donald Pippin: American opera impresario and administrator, 95
Gilbert Py: French tenor, 87

Gianna Rolandi: coloratura soprano with New York City Opera, director of and principal instructor at the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, 68

Gianna Rolandi as Zerbinetta, black and white

Gianna Rolandi in the Metropolitan Opera’s 1984 Ariadne auf Naxos (Photo: Beth Bergman, courtesy of Ed Frazier Davis)

Frederic Rzewski: American composer and pianist, 83

Murray Schafer: Canadian composer, 88
Manfred Hermann Schmid: German musicologist, 74
Al Schmitt: American Grammy winning engineer and producer, 91

Al Schmitt with WFMT recording engineer and producer Mary Mazurek at the 2014 Grammy Awards (Photo courtesy Mary Mazurek)

Stephen Scott: American composer, 76
Anna Shuttleworth: British cellist and pedagogue, 93
Anne Valerie, Lady Solti: “First Lady of the CSO,” British music philanthropist, former arts journalist, and widow of Sir Georg Solti, 83

Anne Valerie, Lady Solti (Photo: Istvánka at Hungarian Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons)

József Soproni: Hungarian composer and pedagogue, 90
Jan Stanienda: Polish orchestral violinist, 68
Pamela Helen Stephen: British mezzo-soprano, 57
Allan Stephenson: English-born South African composer, cellist, and conductor, 71
Mimi Stern-Wolfe: American pianist, composer, concert impresario, champion of American and contemporary music, 84
Richard Stoker: British composer and actor, 82
Franz Streitwieser: Germany-born trumpeter and collector of brass instruments resident in the US, 82

Jaroslav Šaroun: Czech pianist, composer and pedagogue, 77

Adrian Tan: Singaporean conductor, 44
Pauline Tinsley: British soprano, 93
Michel Trempont: Belgian baritone, 92
Evelinde Trenkner: German pianist, 88
Éva Tordai: Hungarian soprano, 83
Keiko Toyama: Japanese pianist, 87
André Tubeuf: French musicologist, 90
Cynthia Turner: Maltese pianist, 88 (from COVID-19)

Melvin Van Peebles: Chicago-born American actor, filmmaker, playwright, novelist, and composer, 89

Melvin Van Peebles (Photo: John Mathew Smith &, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Sir Graham Vick: British opera director, 67 (from COVID-19)
Laurent Verney: French orchestral violist, 61

John Weaver: American organist, 83
Gil Wechsler: American opera house lighting designer (Metropolitan Opera House), 79
George Wein: Newport Jazz Festival co-founder, 95
Coosje Wijzenbeek: Dutch violinist and pedagogue 72
Stephen Wilkinson: British composer and choral conductor, 102

Stephen Wilkinson (Photo:, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Peggy Wiltrout: American oboist, wife of Bliss Michelson (see above), 74 (from COVID-19)
Helmut Winschermann: German oboist, conductor and pedagogue, 100
Hugh Wood: British composer, 89
Robert Wykes: American composer, 95
Jadwiga Wysoczanská-Štrosová: Czech soprano, 93

Renato Zanettovich: Italian violinist and pedagogue, 100

Renato Zanettovich

Udo Zimmermann: German composer, conductor and music administrator, 78
Teresa Żylis-Gara: Polish soprano, 91

Julie Dillon of WFMT and WTTW contributed to this story