Articles / Miscellaneous

Rosalyn Tureck dead at 88

Rosalyn Tureck, a leading performer of Bach on the piano, harpsichord and clavichord, has died, WQXR radio in New York City reports. She was 88.

According to writer Teri Noel Towe, a friend, Tureck died on Thursday evening, July 17, in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York.

Tureck was born in Chicago, where she made her solo recital debut at age 9. One of her piano teachers was Sophia Brilliant-Liven, a student of Anton Rubenstein, to whom Tureck traced her technique. She attended the Juilliard School, where she studied with Olga Samaroff; during her tenure there she made her Carnegie Hall debut performing on the theremin, the electronic instrument invented by Leon Theremin, with whom she had studied.

In 1936, at age 22, she made her New York orchestral debut, performing Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2 with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. A year later, she began an annual series of all-Bach recitals at New York's Town Hall; she would eventually add similar series in London, Copenhagen, Montreal and other cities. She made the first of her many European tours in 1947 and would later travel to South America, South Africa, Israel and Asia. She began to conduct in 1956, appearing with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, the New York Philharmonic and the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as her own Tureck Bach Players and other groups.

Tureck was the author of many articles and several books, including the three-volume An Introduction to the Performance of Bach. She founded the International Bach Institute in 1966 and went on to create the Tureck Bach Institute and its successor, the Tureck Bach Research Foundation.

Although she was best known as a Bach specialist, Tureck was also a passionate advocate of contemporary music, founding Composers of Today and the Society of Contemporary Music. She gave the world premieres of William Schumann's Piano Concerto and David Diamond's Piano Sonata No. 1, which had been written with her in mind. In 1952, she presented the first American performance for tape and electronic music; later, she would perform Bach on the Moog synthesizer.

Tureck taught at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, Juilliard and the University of California at San Diego.

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