One of the contemporary music world’s greatest voices, Marty Bookspan, with more accolades to his name than I can list here, died this week at the wonderful age of 94. He left behind family, dear friends and a world better for his insights and care. Please read about his life here.
He and his wife Janet were co-founders of our organization along with Dr. Ruth Greenfield, helping Loretta Dranoff realize her vision of the international competition. And they continued their wise counsel and advocacy and friendship through the decades, be it as artistic advisers, engaging some the of top composers who wrote new works for the Dranoff, be is as announcer of the (twelve) competitions, as young artist coaches or their liaisons to the art world or simply as friends, until her death in 2008 and now his passing. But, as daughter Deb Margol shared with me – they made sure this admiration became intergenerational and continues with her interest in our work.
In his honor, I would like to share two pieces of work that had a special place in his heart.
Mozart’s Haffner Symphony was one of the works the Boston Symphony Orchestra played at the very first concert he attended in 1938, and one of the works he later played in the Second Violin section of the symphony orchestra of The Boston Music School; the Finale served as the opening theme for the big symphony hour on The Harvard Crimson Network during Marty's time at the station.
And Bernstein’s Candide Overture. Lenny and Marty were friends for 50 years, and the Bookspans attended a tryout production performance in Boston before it moved to Broadway. He felt the music is among Lenny’s best - and noted that the Overture instantly became an American classic.
I have had the incredible joy of having spent many wonderful times with both Jan and Marty; they are missed not only as the powerful professional icons they were. They will be missed as gentle, loving human beings with great knowledge, and the wisdom to wield that knowledge with humility.
The Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation