Bleak day: Jessye Norman’s accompanist has died

Bleak day: Jessye Norman’s accompanist has died


norman lebrecht

December 12, 2019

Dalton Baldwin, favourite piano partner of Jessye Norman, Gérard Souzay, Elly Ameling, Arleen Auger, and many more, has died while on tour.

He was about to turn 88 next week. First reports say he died on his way home from teaching in Myanmar and Japan.

Dalton made more than 100 recordings.

We have lost several legends today.


  • Jonathan says:

    This is a tragic loss for the music world.

    Dalton Baldwin was simply magical – as a pianist, teacher, coach, and lover of song repertoire.

    I worked with him a couple of summers back in a weeklong masterclass. Every day, he was full of energy, life, passion for music, and sharing his body of wisdom with young singers and pianists. He had such a zest for life and at 86 he had more energy than the students a quarter of his age.

    He lives on in the many recordings he made, partnering the greatest singers of his generation with the entire spectrum of the song repertoire, and in the many students he taught.

    • Jonathan says:

      Additionally, I think the title of this article is a bit offensive to Baldwin, whose artistry certainly stands on its own without his association with Norman.

  • Nicholas Ashton says:

    A wonderful, wonderful musician and the most supportive and intelligent of accompanists. Like all of the best pianists (especially in this nuanced and often complex genre), there was a quality of singing in the piano sound, which was inspired by – and an inspiration to – the singers with whom he worked.

  • And Irwin Gage in April 2018 – the end of an age for accompanists and the voices they supported.

  • Jim Meredith says:

    A wonderful pianist, musician and generous spirit. He imparted to singers and pianists alike all the collected wisdom he received from the many great artists he collaborated with. I was fortunate to work with him four summers at his masterclasses in Nice.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    What a marvelous musician he was!
    In the background, but always in the foreground as well.
    Hopefully he died without pain.
    Bravo, Maestro Baldwin…. Ave….

  • Maria Fattore says:

    Please amend this headline. Dalton Baldwin was a giant whose name deserves the lead. He was already a force prior to working with Jessye Norman. His death is an enormous loss to the musical community.

    • Melisande says:

      I endorse Maria Fattore’s request, for it was the then young Jessye who was one of the lucky ones to bloom in Dalton Baldwin’s masterly art of piano playing.

    • Hmus says:

      Definitely! Baldwin was already performing with the great Gerard Souzay when Norman was only 9 years old.

  • Elinor Freer says:

    Mr. Baldwin was a legendary figure in the world of collaborative piano, and in the music world in general. His death is a great loss, but his incredibly artistry will live on through his students and his recordings. As an aside, Slipped Disc is showing how out of touch it is with this insulting “headline.” Baldwin’s career was about so much more than being Jessye Norman’s “accompanist.” For starters, he was a formidable pianist in his own right, studying at Juilliard and with Boulanger in Paris. Secondly, he was a superlative and long-standing partner to many other singers (think Souzay, Ameling, Auger, Gedda, von Stade, Berganza, etc.) and instrumentalists (Szeryng, Fournier, and more.) How about correcting this headline to: Bleak News: Legendary pianist has died.” That would be much more appropriate.

  • Walter Winterfeldt says:

    RIP dear Dalton. I was privileged to have known him since 1985. He invited me to come to Geneva in 1986 to study with him and Gerard Souzay, one of the greatest musical partnerships of our time. I kept in touch with Dalton over many years and last spoke with him a few weeks ago. He was happy to be going to Japan to teach and be honored. He shared his great love and knowledge of music with everyone who came to know him. Thankfully we have his many recordings including complete editions on EMI of Fauré, Debussy, Poulenc, Ravel and Roussel.

  • Pei says:

    A sad day for the music world. However the title of this article is misleading.
    He wasn’t just an accompanist of JN, but an true artist in his own right. I can’t help but think the title is composed in haste and really not appropriate.

  • Emmanuel says:

    Dalton was like a muse to all his students, he inspired peace , breath, diversity and love of nature.
    I remember working with him as a young singer and his trust, his will to help and to teach, transmit his enormous knowledge was overwelmingly agreable and motivating. He knew how to value your qualities and he was surrounded by very passionate singing and piano lovers which created a world apart of beauty and harmony, may he rest in the dame conditions and his soul forever florish. Thank you dear Dalton❤️ You are very loved!

  • PJL says:

    I was only 17; the RNCM had a Ravel centenary series and so I heard him with Souzay: Ravel Faure & encores inc the Child’s aria from SORTILEGES & Souzay’s signature ‘Azulao’; it changed my life. Much later in NEW YORK I heard him with anther hero Michel Senechal… RIP

  • Jill Brunelle says:

    This headline is insulting. I thought that we as a community had evolved past this kind of reflected glory for any pianist who works with singers. I definitely am not a fan of the term “accompanist,” but “collaborative pianist” has always bothered me too, for some reason. Can we not just be called “pianist?” It’s just leaves a sour taste in my mouth, after having relished all the wonderful and respectful tributes that have poured in from all over the world. Dalton Baldwin’s influence is incalculable, and he deserves a better headline than this.

    • Raniero Tazzi says:

      The word “accompanist” is not an insult to the artist. It merely shows that the person using that word knows little about how music and piano playing works.

  • Michael Beattie says:

    I was the “accompanist” for my high school chorus. This man was a great, great pianist. You’ll want to change that headline!

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