Friday, February 22, 2002

George Hufsmith

It was great to hear again from Jackson Hole Symphony Conductor Eric Wenstrom, but unfortunately Eric's e-mail brought bad news. George's research into Villa-Lobos composition pupil George Hufsmith brought him close to this American composer:

"Unfortunately I must notify you that George passed away this morning. He had been having heart problems for the past couple of years and they took quite a toll on his general recent health. He died very peacefully with his wife, Ellie at his side. He was a great man and a great influence in my life. I will miss him greatly."

The first thing I did when I received this message was to re-read Hufsmith's story, as told to Eric, "Lorenzo Fernandez is Dead," a moving tale of friendship in music.

"George and I were planning to premiere a string quintet in the spring, but we will play it for our concert this Saturday. Ironically, it was composed for the death of his son. It seems appropriate for us to play it this Saturday."

I've only had a chance to hear a few piano and chamber works by George Hufsmith. They showed the characteristic mix of folklore and modernism one hears in many of Villa-Lobos' works, but written in a strongly individual way. I look forward to bringing you more of the fascinating stories - cronicas - that Eric has already presented to the world on the Heitor Villa-Lobos Website. I trust that Eric's championship of Hufsmith's music will bring this American original to a much wider audience.

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