Peter Serkin RIP

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Rach3
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Peter Serkin RIP

Post by Rach3 » Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:27 pm

I am advised the pianist has died after a long illness at age 72.Sad news,indeed.

Ricordanza
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Re: Peter Serkin RIP

Post by Ricordanza » Sat Feb 01, 2020 5:51 pm

Sad news, indeed. I heard him in recital one time, just about one year ago:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=49422&p=492905&hilit=Serkin#p492905

Here's the obit from the New York Times:
Peter Serkin, 72, Dies; Pianist With Pedigree Who Forged a New Path
Descended from two eminent musical families, he became a maverick, questioned the establishment and fostered a career on his own terms.

By Anthony Tommasini
Feb. 1, 2020
Updated 3:53 p.m. ET

Peter Serkin, a pianist admired for his insightful interpretations, technically pristine performances and tenacious commitment to contemporary music, died on Saturday morning at his home in Red Hook, N.Y., in Dutchess County, near the campus of Bard University, where he was on the faculty. He was 72.

His death, from pancreatic cancer, was announced by his family.

Mr. Serkin was descended from storied musical lineages on both sides of his family. His father was the eminent pianist Rudolf Serkin; his maternal grandfather was the influential conductor and violinist Adolf Busch, whose musical forebears went back generations.

By 12, Peter Serkin was performing prominently in public, and he soon seemed poised to continue the legacy of his father, who was known for authoritative accounts of the central European repertory.

His first two recordings, made for the RCA label when he was 18, confirmed this impression. One was a buoyant, lucid and probing account of Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations that many critics compared favorably to Glenn Gould’s influential version; the other was a glowing, preternaturally mature account of Schubert’s spacious late Sonata in G, Op. 78.

Yet, though he was proud of his heritage, Mr. Serkin found it a burden. Like many who came of age in the 1960s, he questioned the establishment, both in society at large and within classical music. He resisted a traditional career trajectory and at 21 stopped performing, going for months without even playing the piano.

He traveled to India, touching down in Nepal and Thailand, and lived for a while in Mexico with his wife at the time, Wendy Spinner, and their baby daughter.

Recalling those years in a 1987 interview with The Boston Globe, Mr. Serkin said that back then performing was often “a painful ordeal” for him, and that he could not bear all “that harping by musicians and critics on how you play, as if that’s the central issue.”

This pressure was compounded, he added, by the fact that his family “took music so seriously, in the Old World sense of being a kind of religion,” and maintained “such identification with our being musicians” that it was necessary “for me to just drop that.”

By challenging his legacy, he sought to claim it on his own terms, and contemporary music became central to his artistic identity. Yet Mr. Serkin disliked being called a “champion” of contemporary music, as if the music of his own time occupied some different realm and required expert advocates.

Throughout his career, he presented recital programs that juxtaposed the old and the new: 12-tone scores and Mozart sonatas; thorny pieces by the mid-20th-century German composer Stefan Wolpe and polyphonic works from the Renaissance. Admirers of his playing appreciated how he drew out allusions to music’s past in contemporary scores, while conveying the radical elements of old music.

He played almost all the piano works of Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Wolpe. He also introduced dozens of pieces, including major works and concertos, written for him by composers like Toru Takemitsu, Charles Wuorinen and, especially, his childhood friend Peter Lieberson.

Reviewing Mr. Serkin’s 1985 recording of Mr. Lieberson’s Piano Concerto No. 1, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Seiji Ozawa, the critic Tim Page wrote in The New York Times that Mr. Serkin seemed to him “America’s pre-eminent young pianist — his intelligence and perceptivity invariably take the listener to the heart of the music.”

Peter Adolf Serkin (his middle name was in honor of his grandfather) was born in Manhattan on July 24, 1947, the fifth of seven children of Rudolf Serkin and Irene Busch Serkin. (A daughter died in infancy.) During his childhood he mostly lived on his parents’ farm in Guilford, Vt., not far from Marlboro College, the site of the summer Marlboro Music Festival, founded by a group of artists including Rudolf Serkin and his grandfather Adolf Busch.

Irene Serkin, like her father, played the violin, which was young Peter’s first instrument. But he was drawn more to the piano.

Nevertheless, Rudolf Serkin acknowledged that he had not given his son much encouragement early on. “I doubted he was talented,” he said in a 1980 New York Times Magazine profile of his son. “He was so full of tension when he played; I didn’t realize that was his real gift.” He said that having been compelled by his own father to be a musician, he “was reluctant to push Peter.”

At 11, Peter Serkin enrolled at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where his father was teaching. (Rudolf Serkin later became the institute’s director.) There he studied with the master Polish-born pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski, who became a major influence, as well as the American virtuoso Lee Luvisi and his father.

After graduating at 18, Mr. Serkin took an apartment in New York, avidly listened to recordings by Frank Zappa and the Grateful Dead, and explored Buddhist and Hindu spiritual teachings. He found the pressure of playing in public, and simply of being a Serkin, almost crippling.

“Up until them I was playing concerts largely out of compulsion, and not much new music,” he said in a 1973 New York Times interview. “I had just fallen into it without ever deciding for myself that it was what I wanted to do.”

After his time off and restorative travels, he resumed performing with renewed satisfaction. That he had found the right balance was suggested by the success of two three-LP albums, both recorded in 1973, when he turned 26, both of which earned Grammy Award nominations.

The first offered Mozart’s Piano Concerto Nos. 14-19, with Alexander Schneider conducting the English Chamber Orchestra. The performance splendidly balanced Schneider’s Old World approach to Mozart with Mr. Serkin’s youthful, rethought playing.

The second was a complete account of Messiaen’s “Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus,” a set of 20 solo piano “contemplations” on the infant Jesus composed in 1944. It is music of extraordinary difficulty lasting two and a half hours, alive with cluster chords and evocations of bird calls, moments of mystical bliss and stretches of driving intensity.

In conjunction with the recording Mr. Serkin played the piece, from memory, more than two dozen times in concert halls and colleges, sometimes backed by a light show. Messiaen heard him play it at Dartmouth and was “really too kind,” the pianist recalled in the Boston Globe interview: “He told me that I respected the score, but that when I didn’t, it was even better.”

That same year he formed the chamber ensemble Tashi along with three like-minded colleagues: the clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, the violinist Ida Kavafian and the cellist Fred Sherry. The group’s signature piece was Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” an alternately meditative and ecstatic work in eight movements lasting nearly 50 minutes. Tashi performed it more than 100 times, often with its young players dressed in dashikis or tunics, and recorded it to acclaim in 1975. The group essentially disbanded in the late 1970s after several internal upheavals.

Though Mr. Serkin never completely shook off the early perception of him as “the counterculture’s reluctant envoy to the straight concert world,” as the Times critic Donal Henahan called him in an admiring 1973 profile, over time he reconciled to the ways, even the dress protocols, of that classical world and developed productive associations with artists like the Guarneri String Quartet, the mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (who had married Peter Lieberson) and the conductors Seiji Ozawa, Herbert Blomstedt, Robert Shaw and Pierre Boulez.

Having children also gave him an emotional mooring that he cherished, even during periods of marital strain. Karina Serkin Spitzley, the only child of his marriage to Ms. Spinner, which ended in divorce in 1979, survives him, along with four children from his second marriage, to Regina Touhey Serkin (from whom he was divorced in 2018): Maya, Elena, Stefan (named after Stefan Wolpe) and William Serkin; and two grandchildren. His brother, John, and his sisters Elizabeth, Judith and Marguerite also survive him. Another sister, Ursula, died last year.

Mr. Serkin relished teaching, and held posts at institutions including the Mannes School of Music and the Juilliard School in New York, and, in recent years, Bard. He so enjoyed spending summers teaching at the Tanglewood Music Institute that he bought a home in the Berkshires and lived there for years.

During the 1989-90 season, realizing a long-held ambition, he took a program of 11 works he had commissioned on an extended tour. The composers included the elder masters Takemitsu, Leon Kirchner, Hans Werner Henze, Alexander Goehr and Luciano Berio, as well as Mr. Serkin’s contemporaries Oliver Knussen, Bright Sheng, Christine Berl, Tobias Picker, Tison Street and Mr. Lieberson. To prepare, Mr. Serkin had played no solo recitals the previous season.

“Not many people would make that kind of sacrifice,” Walter Pierce, a concert presenter in Boston who arranged for Mr. Serkin to play the program at Jordan Hall, said at the time, since it represented a “year out of the circuit” and would cost an artist “a lot of money.”

To that Mr. Serkin answered: “Maybe I’ll pay some kind of price in my career, but I don’t even think about it. I’d rather deal with something I believe in.”

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Re: Peter Serkin RIP

Post by Lance » Sat Feb 01, 2020 11:35 pm

Very sorry to hear about this. I once prepared a piano for a recital for Peter Serkin. He was reserved, gentlemanly, and friendly. Reading that obituary brought some things to mind. I suppose being another pianist with the name Serkin could be frustrating, especially if you are the son of the famous one. He seemed to take opposite directions of his father. Rudolf played the Steinway piano and Peter decided to play the Baldwin piano. He even played the fortepiano. Nevertheless, I always enjoyed his playing and have most of his recordings. May he rest in peace.
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
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maestrob
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Re: Peter Serkin RIP

Post by maestrob » Sun Feb 02, 2020 10:37 am

Very sad news indeed. Pancreatic cancer is still a killer: it took away a cousin of mine in San Diego a few years ago. Someday, perhaps, they'll figure out how to stop it.

I knew Ursula Serkin briefly during the early 1970's when she was living at the Evangeline, the Salvation Army women's home on W. 13th street. Ursula was a quiet, unassuming young lady then who taught disabled children for a living. My wife had befriended her, and we visited several times. I was sad to learn of Ursula's passing last year.

I've always admired the younger Serkin's playing. I have many of his recordings, including the Messiaen mentioned with Tashi, a Columbia disc of Mozart Concerti with his father, excellent discs of the two Brahms piano concerti with Robert Shaw, and an ebullient Schubert Trout recorded in his youth. Peter Serkin's great contribution to music was in the thorny XXth Century repertoire, of which I am not a fan, but it's where he made his mark.

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Re: Peter Serkin RIP

Post by Lance » Mon Feb 03, 2020 2:41 am

One wonders if RCA/Sony will offer a complete set of Peter Serkin's recordings, including all collaborations he recorded for them including TASHI. RCA's Mozart early piano concerto recordings - and solo piano music - in the six CD boxed set is highly acclaimed and worth every penny. I still cannot believe he is no longer with us.

Those interested in his recorded legacy can find him on a number of labels including RCA, Sony, British Decca (with violinistPamela Frank), Boston, Bridge, ECM (with pianist András Schiff), Harmonia Mundi (with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson), Naxos, Pro Arte (often period instruments) and Vanguard. His recorded legacy is much larger than you may know. •
Lance G. Hill
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______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Modernistfan
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Re: Peter Serkin RIP

Post by Modernistfan » Mon Feb 03, 2020 11:19 am

Peter Serkin also appeared on two recordings for Naxos with works by Alexander Goehr and Charles Wuorinen, and several on Bridge with works by Wuorinen and others. He also was the soloist in Boulez's recording of Schoenberg's piano concerto on Erato (reissued several times). He will be sorely missed. (I was more upset about this than I was about Kobe Bryant's dying in the helicopter crash in suburban Los Angeles.)

jserraglio
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Re: Peter Serkin RIP

Post by jserraglio » Sat Feb 08, 2020 2:18 pm

Lance wrote:
Mon Feb 03, 2020 2:41 am
One wonders if RCA/Sony will offer a complete set of Peter Serkin's recordings, including all collaborations he recorded for them including TASHI.
A Sony megabox (35 CDs) is scheduled to appear at the end of May, 2020. Composer, pianist and writer, Jed Distler states on another forum that it will contain both his Columbia and RCA recordings and that he is writing the booklet essay for the reissue. I usually forgo blockbuster issues of this sort, but this one I want. https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B081WQZVPS

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My very first Serkin record, RCA LSC-2874

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPAVyOdnW6I


Lance
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Re: Peter Serkin RIP

Post by Lance » Sat Feb 08, 2020 6:38 pm

This is very good news, indeed. I hope Peter Serkin knew this set was forthcoming. I think he would have been pleased. There is supposed to be some J. S. Bach that Peter recorded for RCA that was subsequently never issued. I hope that 35-CD set has some surprises in it. Thank you for letting us know, Joe. I'll be watching for this as well.
jserraglio wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 2:18 pm
A Sony megabox (35 CDs) is scheduled to appear at the end of May, 2020. Composer, pianist and writer, Jed Distler states on another forum that it will contain both his Columbia and RCA recordings and that he is writing the booklet essay for the reissue. I usually forgo blockbuster issues of this sort, but this one I want. https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B081WQZVPS

________________________________________
My very first Serkin record, RCA LSC-2874

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPAVyOdnW6I

Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

Lance
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Re: Peter Serkin RIP

Post by Lance » Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:18 am

Does anyone know of Peter Serkin's funeral information (which must be over by now) or where his final resting place is? It may be near his mother/father in Guilford, Vermont, near Marlboro.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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karlhenning
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Re: Peter Serkin RIP

Post by karlhenning » Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:19 pm

An exceptional and brave artist!
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

Lance
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Re: Peter Serkin RIP

Post by Lance » Sun Feb 23, 2020 1:08 pm

Just arrived, a two-CD set on the Vivace label [8808] of live performances with pianist Peter Serkin. It includes a 2018 performance (in this all-JS Bach set) of the Suite in C Minor for Lute-Cembalo recorded at Bard College, a 2017 recording of the Goldberg Variations recorded in Minnesota in 2017, and the Partita No. 6 in E Minor recorded in Louisville, Kentucky (no date of performance was given).

Also announced on the Vivace label, a set of 6 CDs with Peter Serkin performing the works of CPE Bach; this a must for me. It is allegedly due out in the next couple of months. No doubt this will ultimately become a rare item down the road.

And then we have that 35-CD set honoring Serkin coming from RCA/Sony.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

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