Death of an Italian-American conductor

We have been notified of the sad passing of Guido Ajmone-Marsan, a student of Franco Ferrara and a Solti prize winner. He was 67.

Guido conducted the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition in its early years, from 1991 – 1995. He was Principal Conductor of the Gelders Orkest in Arnhem (1982-86), Chief Conductor of the Orchestra of Illinois (1983-88), and music director of the opera in Essen, Germany (1986-90).

He went on to guest-conduct the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco Symphony, LSO, Philharmonia, RPO, BBC, Orchestre de Paris, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Orchestra Filharmonica della Scala and more. His last engagement were with New Zealand Opera.

His death, in November, has just been made public.

 

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  • I am terribly saddened to read this. It is strange, since only the other day, I spoke about him and how very special he was as a music director. We performed only one concert together in February of 1988 in Miami for the Tenth Anniversary of the Chopin Foundation of the United States. (Brief history of how we met: Hanna Saxon, who was able to achieve the near impossible, managed to bring Leonard Bernstein on as her Co-Director for the Mitropoulos Competitions in the 1960s, whose winners included Maestros Edo de Waart, Claudio Abbado, pianist Agustin Anievas and many who went on to significant careers. Hanna was also the President of the South Florida Chapter of the Chopin Foundation of the United States when Guido was invited to conduct the New World Symphony for their 10th anniversary concert.) We performed two concertos that same evening–Chopin #1 and Prokofiev #3. Maestro Marsan was brilliant, and we managed to maintain some contact over the years. It was a surreal moment remembering him and speaking about him this past Sunday evening after he had passed. Surely there are many musicians in orchestras and opera companies who enjoyed working with him during his career and will miss him tremendously. My sincere sympathy to his family; I wish them Godspeed.

  • Very sad news. He was to conduct the season of La Traviata in Auckland and Wellington for NZ Opera last year (2014) but was replaced by Emmanuel-Joel Hornak. His last New Zealand engagement was in 2010.

  • Guido, his wife Helle, and their three talented children have been close friends and neighbours of my family here in London for the past 20-odd years. He and I were particularly close and enjoyed many hours discussing musical matters in depth, and I shall sorely miss our many sessions – often over a very pleasant home-cooked meal of risotto which he loved. I will also remember the many performances we attended of him conducting – mainly operas – which also afforded the opportunity to see new places such as Copenhagen (Barber of Seville), Malmo (Faust), Glasgow (Tosca), Edinburgh (Madama Butterfly), and Las Palmas, Canary Islands (Andrea Chenier). He has left a big hole in our lives and will be greatly missed.

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