These obituaries were written in October 2010, and appeared in print in The New Music Connoisseur, v.18 #2, p. 27, slightly abbreviated [words in brackets omitted], in December 2010.
Adele Berk (1924-2010) studied composition with Irving Fine and Normand Lockwood, attending the very first summer at Tanglewood in 1940 and graduating from Hunter College and Columbia. [Her trio "Rx for 3" was recorded on Capstone. Among her most moving works are three songs, recorded by Helene Williams on Capstone's "Songs of Love" CD, to texts by Sara Teasdale, Shakespeare, and herself.] Melbourne poet Alex Skovron, reviewing it for NMC, found her work "arresting for its vigour and modal quality." [Another is her choral setting of Isaiah's "They Shall Beat Their Swords Into Ploughshares," which formed the lively finale of the SRO Sept. 3, 1995 LICA concert at Malverne Community Presbyterian Church honoring the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II, reviewed in NMC.] A former board member and treasurer of The Long Island Composers Alliance, she was composer-in-residence in the Wantagh Schools and served on the faculty at Nassau Community and Dowling Colleges.--Leonard J. Lehrman
Albert Tepper (1921-2010), Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Hofstra Music Department and of LICA, was Music Supervisor of Hofstra's Drama Department, and composed incidental music for over 100 plays. His settings of Shakespeare are among his most endearing creations[; three of them are on the Capstone CD "Helene Williams Sings Songs of Love"; still more on the 4Tay CD of his "Duos & Trios" performed by the American Chamber Ensemble, including his classic 1948 Viola Sonata. The Slovak Radio Symphony recorded his Concerto for Oboe & Strings on MMC, the Meridian Quartet his 1946 String Quartet on Capstone.] The author of an important harmony textbook, he was a mentor for many Long Island musicians, including Tom Cipullo and Herbert Deutsch[, introducing the latter to electronic music in 1955]. NYU Music Dept. Chair Michael Beckerman wrote of him: "A wonderful personality, fabulous teacher, and a brilliant composer. He will be missed, and remembered, always warmly." [He and Adele Berk were both memorialized in LICA's Concert of Sacred Music June 13, 2010 at United Methodist Church in Huntington.]--LJL
Robert M. Palmer (1915-2010), Professor Emeritus at Cornell, founded the doctoral program in composition there, the first of its kind in the country, and gave the benefit of his caring ear and wise encouragement to students of several generations[, including Bernard Heiden, Paul Chihara, Walter Ross, Jack Gallagher, Brian Israel, Steven Stucky, Leonard Lehrman, Christopher Rouse, Samuel Pellman, and Daniel Dorff]. His teachers at Eastman and privately had included Howard Hanson, Bernard Rogers, Quincy Porter, Roy Harris, and Aaron Copland. His works include numerous pieces for piano solo (several sonatas, a toccata, and the delightfully aphoristic "Transitions"), a piano concerto, a chamber concerto, two symphonies, choral works on Whitman, Vachel Lindsay[, and an oratorio, Nabuchodonosor, and chamber works - most importantly two classic piano quartets. While never a great promoter of his own works, he helped others unstintingly: his last published work was a letter to Opera News protesting their printing a review by a critic who hadn't even attended the piece in question: the Blitzstein-Lehrman Sacco and Vanzetti, on which he had been advisor to both composers, and the completion of which had been dedicated to him. College of Wooster Music Professor Jack Gallagher has written movingly of "his dedication, kindness, vision and expert professional guidance. He will be sorely missed."]
AMC President Steven Stucky's tribute (and a photo) may be found at http://www.newmusicbox.org/article.nmbx?id=6481 . Cornell is planning a memorial. --LJL
Jack Beeson (1921-2010), Professor Emeritus at Columbia, initiated the doctoral program in composition there. In 1950 he won third prize in a La Scala opera competition. The opera was Jonah, based on a play by Paul Goodman. It is a delightful work, much deserving of workshopping and production, but perhaps because of its size it is his only opera - of 10 - still unperformed. The one-act Hello Out, There, after Saroyan, has had over 100 productions, and My Heart's in the Highlands, also after Saroyan, was televised and later staged by the Center for Contemporary Opera. Lizzie Borden, with libretto by Kenward Elmslie, premiered by NYCO with Brenda Lewis, Ellen Faull and Herbert Beattie, is one of the great American operas. Elmslie was also the librettist for The Sweet Bye and Bye. Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines, Dr. Heidegger's Fountain of Youth and Cyrano had the benefit of brilliant libretti by Sheldon Harnick. The composer wrote his own for Practice in the Art of Elocution and Sorry, Wrong Number, after Louise Fletcher. Beeson's catalog also included 11 solo and chamber works, 9 for orchestra, 74 for solo voices, 50 for chorus and 2 for band. His autobiography, How Operas Are Created by Composers and Librettist: The Life of Jack Beeson, American Opera Composer, was published in 2008 by Mellen [and reviewed in 2009 by NMC]. A mentor for hundreds of students at Columbia, and a sane voice on so many important music committees from the Ditson Fund to the ASCAP Board to the Pulitzer Prize, he is the subject of a loving tribute by Alice Shields, calling him "Composer, Teacher, Advocate, and Born Satirist" at newmusicbox.org/article.nmbx?id=6421. Columbia will hold a memorial to him Oct. 25.