Death of an American song composer, 87main
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.
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.”
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.
Ned Rorem had an affectionate term for Richard’s breed of specialists: “song composers’ song composers.” And Richard was among the best.
Oh my gosh. Arise My Love is an old favorite of mine to sing at weddings. This is very sad!
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.
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.
So sorry to learn of Richard’s passing. It was my privilege to work with him on the choral adaptations of two of his most well-known solo songs, “Come Ready and See Me” and “Moonlight’s Watermelon.” Sharing that time with him was so precious, as it revealed the extraordinary skills and sensibilities he possessed. He was so meticulous—every mark made a difference, and so working on this with him gave me rare insight into his creative process. He was also articulate, charming, and marvelously witty. I realized that I was in the presence of a contemporary Schubert, and am sure his works will live on and delight all who encounter them through the generations to come.