California mourns untimely death of a helpful pianist

California mourns untimely death of a helpful pianist


norman lebrecht

July 07, 2017

Friends and students are reporting the death, from a rapid cancer, of Professor Edward Francis – pianist, teacher and influencer of innumerable musicians.

From his official bio:

Ohio born, he moved to California in 1965, where his major teachers were Mildred McGowen-Ryan, and Peter Yazbeck. He entered CSU Northridge, (where…) his principal teacher was French pianist Francoise Regnat. He was an invited participant in the master classes of Polish Pianist Jakob Gimpel for six years…. Shortly after completing his master’s degree he was hired as music faculty at Oxnard College in Ventura County. …In 1998 he was invited by CSUN to replace his former piano professor Francoise Regnat, while she took a one-year sabbatical.

He founded and was chairman of the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic, which produces concerts featuring a professional orchestra with exceptional young artists as soloists.

Edward Francis was 61. A memorial mass will take place on Tuesday at St. Julie Billiart Catholic Church in Newbury Park.

Dmitry Rachmanov writes:

It is with with the greatest sadness and sorrow that we have to announce the loss of our dearest colleague and friend, Professor Edward Francis, which occurred last night at 2:30 AM, PDT.
Rest In Peace, dear Edward, you were a truly unique human being, one of a kind, universally admired and deeply respected and loved! We will forever miss you!!!

Edward Francis was a great friend and supporter from my first steps upon moving to California in 2007. His collegiality, generosity and a sense of goodwill were omnipresent and provided an incredible support on so many levels! His magnanimous nurturing spirit helped and embraced so many fortunate enough to know him. He was a larger-than-life presence in the pianistic world of Southern CA and far beyond, a friend and colleague of great many pianists, educators, professionals. He is irreplaceable and will be sorely sorely missed!

Zsolt Bognar writes: The important and beloved piano teacher Edward Francis has lost his battle with cancer. He touched the lives of so many, from students who went on to have major careers to others he met and nurtured. I met him in Atlanta and will never forget his almost radiant and unassuming kindness. He seemed to embody love and dedication. He was so self-effacing when I met him that I didn’t even realize until later his magnitude in the musical world. He will be missed.

Carlos Gardels writes: Tributes to the legendary Edward Francis. It was impossible to be a pianist in Southern California to do anything or go anywhere without running into him, or feeling his energy. It’s because of people like him that things get done. His life was cut tragically short, but his legacy is as big as someone who lived 5 lives.



  • Vivian Hernandez says:

    Kind, gentle, humorous and artistic soul. A role model for younger teachers. Rarely do teachers to so far out of their way to create opportunities for their students. RIP, and I hope the angels are singing for you.

  • Nicole Minsk says:

    Apart from being a preeminent pianist, Mr. Francis was so talented an instructor that he could teach at the very highest levels and still have patience for a beginner. My eight-year-old adored him and would tackle, unasked, pieces beyond her level just for the joy of pleasing him. We could not have had a more kind and patient teacher, and I know she will think of him every time she sits down to the piano. His loss is a tragedy to all who knew him.

  • Hertz Family says:

    He will be greatly missed in the music community and certainly his influence and great work within his home town, Thousand Oaks, CSUN and his many private students past and present. His legacy will live thru the many artists he instructed and cultivated. His music will play on through the hearts of many. RIP

  • Charles McDermott says:

    An exceptional teacher, musician, colleague and, most important, friend. I knew and admired Ed through his performances and those of his many students (from the youngest to those over 80). Through my work at the New West Symphony, I followed his thriving TO Philharmonic and its many successes and on more than one occasion helped him move music stands. His talent, patience and quiet good humor will be missed!

  • Oncle says:

    Sorry to hear this, there were so many years left to go. Too early. Condolences to his family, and his students who miss him dearly.

  • says:

    I am so sorry to hear of the death of Edward Francis . I was a neighbor of Millie Ryan when he was her talented student and beloved by her! While not knowing him personally I know when he had grown beyond her and was sent by her to the. Ext teacher in his life. As she aged he was so very good and kind to her.
    I am now the age amillie was when she moved from TO and fell so sorry that the fine talented man had to leave the world so young.
    My condolences to his family and friends, Mary Hansen in Camarillo.

  • Deborah Carlon says:

    Edward was my children’s piano teacher for 10 years. He was such an inspiration for them and for my family. His enthusiasm for his students was incredible! We miss him beyond words can describe. He will forever be in our hearts. Condolences to his family.