The classical music world lost one of its legendary figures last week. The German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau died ten days short of his 87th birthday. He was one of the most recorded classical singers in recording history. Classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz was one of his admirers.
Conductor, arranger and musical historian John McGlinn frequently stripped classic musicals to their roots by returning to original orchestrations and reinstating lost songs. McGlinn died on Feb. 14; Fresh Air remembers him with interviews from 1989 and 1992.
She was a home-grown phenomenon, an operatic soprano trained entirely in the U.S. in an era when most singers developed their craft in Europe, and she made a notable second career after her retirement as a formidable arts administrator and advocate. Fresh Air spoke with her in 1985.
Arranger and baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan died Saturday, January 20th, from complications due to surgery. He was 68. We will rebroadcast a 1989 interview with him. Mulliagn was an innovator in modern jazz orchestration. Early in his career he was staff arranger for Gene Krupa's big band. In 1949 he collaborated with Gil Evans and Miles Davis in the Nonet. The nine-piece band shook up jazz arrangers and launched the era of so-called cool jazz. He achieved international acclaim when he started a "pianoless" quartet with trumpeter Chet Baker in the early 1950's.
Cage died yesterday at the age of 79. The New York Times wrote that Cage "started a revolution by proposing that composers could jettison the musical language that had evolved over the last seven centuries, and in doing so he opened the door to Minimalism, performance art and virtually every other branch of the musical avant-garde." His compositions include spoken texts, radios, toys and the sounds of vegetables being chopped. In honor of his passing, we present highlights of his 1982 interview with Terry Gross.