It was with real sadness, that I was informed of Myer’s sudden passing from his sons, Nicholas and Jonathan, as I was entering the foyer of a theatre here in New York just before curtain up on July 5. I wept copious, silent tears throughout the performance that, at the time, seemed to go on interminably. The performance’s final curtain only exacerbated the terrible loss I still feel today.
I first came to know Myer Fredman as a youngish conducting student at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 1993. At the time, I moved to Sydney having been given a scholarship opportunity to study with the maestro at Opera Australia and, specifically, with the intent of studying the operas of Mozart and Britten. Myer’s expertise in these works was well-known – especially the works of Mozart – through his long association with Glyndebourne, but little did I know at the outset of his passion and finely detailed knowledge of the operatic canon (especially in the works of Verdi and Strauss). It was like heaven!
Myer was a brilliant but uncompromising teacher. His tolerance for lazy musicianship was well-known (if not legendary) and, as a student, I did ‘cop’ it on a few occasions for singing wrong notes and less than perfect rhythm when being required to sing and conduct simultaneously every part in whichever opera was under current study. Lessons were of such length (almost inevitably without a break) that suddenly 3-4 hours had passed unnoticed. I was exhausted, Myer was ebulliant. His energy and enthusiasm for the task unstoppable. Continue Reading →