Vassar mourns a music scholar, 65

The unexpected death is recorded of Michael Pisani, a close associate of Leonard Bernstein, a busy composer, professor and head of the music department at Vassar.

He rehearsed the casts for Bernstein’s opera A Quiet Place in Washington, D.C., La Scala and the Vienna State Opera.

He was the author of is book, Imagining Native America in Music (Yale University Press, 2005) and of Music for the Melodramatic Theatre (University of Iowa Press, 2014).


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  • “Among his proudest musical memories was accompanying tenor Jon Vickers in a run-through of Verdi’s Otello at the Houston Grand Opera, and playing a rehearsal of A Quiet Place at La Scala, while Leonard Bernstein conducted and composer Luciano Berio turned pages.

    Close friends also remember how, after Michael accompanied noted baritone Kurt Ollmann in a French song recital at Lincoln Center, Maestro Bernstein emerged from the audience, clambered onto the stage, applauded them, and then knelt down to kiss Michael’s hands in appreciation.”

  • I was a colleague of Michael’s and was so saddened to hear the awful news. Condolences to his entire family.

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