Two of the most searched-for terms on Slipped Disc this past week have been ‘Martin Isepp’ and ‘Omus Hirchbein’.
The first was one of the most influential opera accompanists and teachers of our time, the second was New York’s most dazzling musical organiser.
Both died in the past ten days. Neither has received the decency of a newspaper obituary.
The Guardian announced before Christmas that it was cutting its death watch pages by half. That’s bad news – bad for social decency and bad for the Guardian, which loses social relevance and sales. I am exactly half as likely to buy a paper that has halved its obituary coverage.
Meanwhile, 15 tributes to Martin Isepp have been posted here on Slipped Disc, including a wonderful track of him accompanying Paul Austin Kelly in the Schumann Dichterliebe, in what may have been the last recital of his life. Listen up here.
As for Omus, the New York Times hardly noticed his work at the 92nd Street Y when he was alive. They have yet to report his death.
It does seem that print newspapers are collectively writing their own death warrant.
UOPDATE: The Times of London, which has not shrunk its obits coverage, today published a full-page appreciation of Martin Isepp. Unfortunately, it is behind a firewall so I can’t share it. Two snippets – Martin failed a music degree at Oxford because he was too fond of playong music, and the task of teaching the Marschallin to Montserrat Caballe was so arduous that he could never listen to her again.