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A Tribute to Myer Fredman (1932 – 2014)

As this website is entirely devoted to orchestral and opera music, and musicians, I cannot think of a more fitting post for 2014, than this reflection on the life of the late, great British conductor, Myer Fredman.

This is a beautiful video showing the concluding part of Vaughan Williams’ Serenade To Music. The work for 16 soloists and orchestra is an adaptation from Act V, Scene 1 of The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare.  The text is a discussion about music and the ‘music of the spheres’. This footage was captured during 2010 as part of the Australian Shakespeare Festival.  The Festival also included the first, complete, concert performance in Australia of the RVW’s shakespearean opera masterpiece, Sir John in Love.

This was one of Maestro Fredman’s last appearances on the podium.  It so admirably shows this musician’s musician at his finest in the twilight of his career.  The deep care and love for the expression of music as an Art is never more palpably observed than in the maestro’s gestures and the resultant sound from the orchestra.

Myer Fredman studied at the Dartington College of the Arts before being awarded the Eileen Joyce Scholarship to study in London with Vilem Tausky and Peter Gellhorn and later for some special lessons with Sir Adrian Boult. In the early years of his career he assisted the emminent conductors Dr. Otto Klemperer, Maestro Vittorio Gui, Sir Charles Mackerras and Sir John Pritchard. From 1959 to 1974 he worked at the Glyndebourne Festival and from 1961 conducted during every season and was instrumental in creating Glyndebourne Touring Opera (now Glyndebourne on Tour) and appointed it’s initial Music Director. That same period saw him conducting in many European countries, the United States, Canada and Australia and was awarded a medal ‘Per Servizio della Musica e Cultura Italiana’.

This tribute was produced and edited by my very dear friend, Victor Kazan, whose  feature length documentary on the Australian Shakepseare Fesatival is also available to view here.

Season Greetings to all and wishing everyone a joyous and peaceful 2015.


Myer Fredman (1932-2014): The Passing of A Very Great Conductor and Musician’s Musician

Myer_Fredman_British_ConductorIt 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 →