Death of an American song composer, 87

February 27, 2018 by norman lebrecht


Richard Hundley was a singer in the Metropolitan Opera Chorus when he showed the songs he wrote to the soloists.

Anneliese Rothenberger, Rosalind Elias, Anna Moffo, Teresa Stratas, Frederica von Stade, Lili Chookasian, John Reardon, and Betty Allen began singing them in recital.

Hundley, who died yesterday, produced more than a hundred little gems which are sung with deep pleasure by professionals and amateurs alike.

Comments (7)

  1. Paula says:

    I was lucky enough to have studied with Richard Hundley back in the early 1990s. He wouldn’t take money for lessons so he had me organize his programs (from singers who had performed his songs in recital) so that he could properly report performances of his work to ASCAP.

    He was, indeed, a master songsmith and a very fine teacher as well. At one lesson, he illustrated something that Virgil Thomson (whom he knew extremely well and had studied).had taught him: he asked me to play something I’d written very badly — not as I had written it. Then he looked at me for my reaction. I was gobsmacked — but that isn’t what I wrote, I said. He then dropped this jewel on me, very gently, “Dear, do you think you are going to get a good performance of your music all the time? Your work needs to be able to stand up to the worst performance.”

    Norman: Among your list of singers who performed his music regularly you forgot to mention the great Frederica von Stade, she recorded two of Richard’s gems: “The Astronomers” and “Come Ready and See Me.”

    RIP Richard.

    1. norman lebrecht says:

      Thanks, Paula!

    2. anon says:

      One of my colleagues played Flicka’s “The Astronomers” and “Come Ready and See Me” yesterday when we heard the news of Mr. Hundley’s death. Gorgeous renderings of his incredible music.

  2. Russell Platt says:

    Ned Rorem had an affectionate term for Richard’s breed of specialists: “song composers’ song composers.” And Richard was among the best.

  3. Winger says:

    Oh my gosh. Arise My Love is an old favorite of mine to sing at weddings. This is very sad!

  4. Christopher Berg says:

    Richard composed magnificent songs and was a wonderful friend for 35 years. His music was loved by singers and pianists (and audiences) everywhere. I will sorely miss him.

  5. Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Vrenios says:

    I had the great privilege to work with Richard. He was one of the of the emotional and empathetic voices that could move and inspire us. We will all miss this great and beautiful voice.

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