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Obituaries

Obituaries

The Metropolitan Opera's director of archives, Robert Tuggle; Stravinsky confidant Robert Craft; Czech opera authority Yveta Synek Graff; Met timpanist Richard Horowitz. 

ROBERT TUGGLE
Martinsville, VA, April 17, 1932 — New York, NY, January 21, 2016  

THE DIRECTOR OF ARCHIVES at the Metropolitan Opera for more than thirty-four years, Robert Tuggle was the driving force behind the creation of the company’s digital database, a research tool that includes data from every Met performance in New York and on tour since the company opened in 1883.  Introduced in 2005, the Met’s database is updated five days a week during the opera season and is available for use without charge to any visitor to the Met website.

Tuggle was a 1954 graduate of Princeton University, where he studied musicology and wrote his thesis on Verdi as a musical dramatist.  He then served two years in the U.S. Field Artillery before beginning his professional career in 1957 at the Metropolitan Opera Guild, working in the education department.  In 1961, Tuggle was named the Guild’s director of education, and remained in that position until 1977.  During his time at the Guild, Tuggle was passionately committed to bringing students and teachers into contact with opera.  In a 1969 interview with Jane Boutwell in opera news, Tuggle said, “Any opera is a good opera for children. Our job is to stimulate their interest with publications, filmstrips and live performances, so that we can build an intelligent and discerning musical audience.” 

During the 1960s and ’70s, Tuggle was instrumental in developing Teacher’s Guides to the opera and continued the tradition of Met student performances begun at the request of Eleanor Robson Belmont, founder of the Guild.  The most notable student performance of Tuggle’s time was on April 11, 1966, when students and teachers who had anticipated attending a matinée of La Fanciulla del West at the Metropolitan Opera House at 39th Street and Broadway were diverted at the last minute to the Met’s new home at Lincoln Center, which had not yet opened.  The Fanciulla matinée was the first full test of the acoustics of the Met at Lincoln Center, which would be inaugurated officially the following September 18, with the world premiere of Antony and Cleopatra.  Tuggle also was instrumental in introducing school performances with orchestra (instead of piano) by the Metropolitan Opera Studio and commissioning a one-act opera for the Studio from Al Carmines, The Duel, about Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, which had its premiere in Brooklyn in 1974.

In 1981, Tuggle was named director of archives at the Met, a position to which he was ideally suited.  Bob’s taste, erudition and encyclopedic knowledge of opera redefined the importance of his department within the context of the Met and within the context of the industry.  He made the Met’s rich history an integral part of its present-day life; for Bob, the artists who had contributed to the company’s greatness in seasons past remained vital and important.  The most cherished singer in Bob’s personal lexicon was Kirsten Flagstad; he admired the Norwegian soprano extravagantly from the first time he heard her in person, in 1951, and the creation of a definitive biography of the Norwegian soprano occupied him for the better part of twenty years.  The Flagstad book remained unfinished at the time of his death.  

Bob’s 1983 book The Golden Age of Opera, an elegant scrapbook of an era as seen through the portraits of Russian-born opera photographer Herman Mishkin, contains the full measure of its author’s waspish wit, formidable curiosity and uncompromising standards.  Bob was opinionated, irascible and did not suffer fools, but he was also a man of boundless enthusiasm for the art form he loved and a powerful advocate for civility and quality.  —F. Paul Driscoll 

Obituaries Robert Craft Hdl 216 
Stravinsky with Craft, 1961
© AKG-Images/TT News Agency
 

ROBERT CRAFT
Kingston, NY, October 20, 1923— Gulf Stream, FL, November 10, 2015  

REMEMBERED CHIEFLY FOR his long association with Igor Stravinsky, the conductor studied at the Juilliard School, Columbia University and Tanglewood, as well as privately with Pierre Monteux. In 1947, when he was at the beginning of his conducting career, Craft wrote to Stravinsky, asking to borrow a score of the composer’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments, which Craft wanted to lead in concert in April of the following year with an ensemble he had founded, the Chamber Art Society. Stravinsky responded by offering to conduct the piece himself, free of charge. Stravinsky invited Craft to visit him in California, and the developing personal and professional sympathy between the two men was such that in December 1948 Craft moved into Stravinsky’s home in Los Angeles. Beloved by the composer and by his second wife, Vera de Bosset Stravinsky, Craft remained part of the Stravinsky household until the composer’s death, in 1971.

During Stravinsky’s lifetime, Craft served as the composer’s musical adviser—it was Craft who encouraged Stravinsky to embrace serialism—as well as his rehearsal conductor and de facto secretary. Craft published several book-length dialogues with Stravinsky, including Conversations with Igor Stravinsky (1959) and Memories and Commentaries (1960). After the composer’s death, Craft served as the chief custodian of the Stravinsky legend, editing three volumes of correspondence, writing and lecturing prolifically on his music and conducting his works on recording and in concert.

Craft appeared as a guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra, among others, and led several Stravinsky world premieres, including Agon (1957) and Requiem Canticles (1966). At Santa Fe Opera, Craft conducted the U.S. premieres of the two-act version of Berg’s Lulu (1963) and Hindemith’s Cardillac (1967). A brilliant essayist, Craft was a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and other publications.

JOHN DUFFY
New York, NY, June 23, 1926—Norfolk, VA, December 22, 2015  

THE FOUNDER AND FORMER DIRECTOR of Meet the Composer, a program that enabled contemporary composers to talk with audiences about new works, Duffy studied composition at what is now the New School and at Tanglewood. Duffy’s more than 300 works included the opera Black Water, with a libretto by Joyce Carol Oates based on her novel; incidental music for numerous productions at the Guthrie Theater, the Long Wharf Theater and the American Shakespeare Festival, as well as the original New York productions of The Ginger Man (1963)and MacBird! (1967); two Emmy Award-winning scores for television documentaries; and symphonic music and chamber works.  Duffy founded Meet the Composer in 1974 and led the organization until 1996.

DANIEL FERRO
New York, NY, April 10, 1921—November 18, 2015  

FERRO TAUGHT VOICE at Butler University, Hunter College and The Manhattan School of Music before joining the faculty of The Juilliard School, where he was a member of the vocal faculty for thirty-four years (1972–2006). He taught master classes throughout the world and was founder and artistic director of the Daniel Ferro Vocal Program, which celebrated its twentieth-first year in Greve-in-Chianti, Italy, in 2015. A graduate of the Juilliard School and Columbia University, Ferro worked as a bass-baritone in Europe and the U. S. in the 1950s and ’60s.  

YVETA SYNEK GRAFF
Prague, Czechoslovakia, November 18, c. 1933—Montecito, CA,  November 6, 2015  

OPERA'S MOST PASSIONATE and visible authority on the repertoire of her native Czechoslovakia, Graff studied voice in Paris with Ninon Vallin before immigrating to the U.S. in 1956. After her marriage to banker F. Malcolm Graff, Jr., a longtime board member of the Metropolitan Opera Guild and the Metropolitan Opera, Yveta Graff became a glamorous addition to the opera scene in Manhattan. With the encouragement of her husband and her father, Emil Synek, a distinguished Czech man of letters, Yveta Graff began to work as a vocal coach in her native language and then, with her colleague and editor Robert T. Jones, as a translator and transliterator of masterworks by Janáček, Smetana, Dvořák and other Czech composers.

Yveta Graff’s opera career started in earnest in 1977, when she worked on a Czech-language performance of Smetana’s Dalibor at Carnegie Hall, with Eve Queler and the Opera Orchestra of New York. Her long professional association with the Metropolitan Opera began in 1985, when the Met presented her English-language translation of Jenůfa, conducted by Václav Neumann. As the Met and other companies made the transition to Czech-language performances of Czech operas, Yveta Graff worked as a Czech coach and consultant in most of the great houses of the opera world, preparing productions at San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Covent Garden, Glyndebourne and the Juilliard School, among other companies. For her devotion to Czech opera, Yveta Graff received numerous honors from her native country, including the Janáček and Smetana medals.

RICHARD HOROWITZ
Bronx, NY, February 3, 1924—Manhasset, NY, November 2, 2015   

THE TIMPANIST JOINED the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 1946 and remained on the Met roster for sixty-six years and 10,000 performances before he retired in 2012. Named principal timpanist in 1971, Horowitz is believed to be the longest-serving employee in Met history. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Horowitz became celebrated as a maker of conductor’s batons, which he created in the basement of his Bayside, Queens home for some of his era’s most distinguished maestros, including James Levine, Leonard Bernstein, Karl Böhm, Colin Davis, Carlos Kleiber, Rafael Kubelik, Erich Leinsdorf, Julius Rudel, Thomas Schippers and Jeffrey Tate. spacer 

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