Death of composer’s American widow, aged 92

Death of composer’s American widow, aged 92


norman lebrecht

July 05, 2016

Gladys Nordenstrom, who studied with Ernst Krenek from 1942 to 1947 and married him soon after, died yesterday at the age of 92. She outlived Krenek by 25 years and did much to get his music recorded.

Her death came in the middle of a project to record the complete piano concertos.

Krenek was one of the musical livewires of the Weimar Republic, composer of the hit opera Jonny Spielt Auf. He quit Germany when Hitler came to power.


Gladys Nordenstrom, Charles Amirkhanian, Ernst Krenek, 1980


  • Martin Anderson says:

    Perhaps now that Gladys has gone, we can investigate her own music. A few years ago she sent me a recording of one of her own songs: tough, angular, feisty — terrifically impressive. My natural reaction was to suggest that we should make a recording of her music. But her focus in life — in later life, at least — was the promotion of her husband and she never mentioned her own music again, even though I raised the subject once or twice again.

    She was, I might add, the perfect ‘composer’s widow’: some want to keep an eye on every semicolon, but once Gladys had suggested or OK’d a project, she would sit back and let you get on with it. She kept an eye on you, of course, and might offer an opinion (a wise and well considered one) now and then, but she never interfered. I am very happy that our recent Toccata Classics release of the first three EK piano concertos — a project she initiated and supported — meant that she died with the universal critical praise it has attracted ringing in her ears. And we — Toccata Classics and Toccata Press — have much more to do to continue her work.

  • Una says:

    Here is Bruce Duffie’s interview with Ernst Krenek … worth a read.