Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Series-Disabled Legend Hans Keller

Hans Keller was born in 1919 and died in 1985, Hans was an Austrian-born British musician and writer who made significant contributions to musicology and music criticism, and invented the method of ‘Wordless Functional Analysis’ (in which a work is analysed in musical sound alone, without any words being heard or read).

Hans Keller was born into a well-to-do and culturally well-connected Jewish family in Vienna, and as a boy was taught by the same Oskar Adler who had, decades earlier, been Arnold Schoenberg’s boyhood friend and first teacher. Hans Keller also came to know the composer and performer Franz Schmidt, but was never a formal pupil. In 1938 the Anschluss forced Hans Keller to flee to London (where he had relatives), and in the years that followed he became a prominent and influential figure in the UK’s musical and music-critical life. Initially active as a violinist and violist, he soon found his niche as a highly prolific and provocative writer on music as well as an influential teacher, lecturer, broadcaster and coach.

An original thinker never afraid of controversy, Hans Keller’s passionate support of composers whose work he saw as under-valued or insufficiently understood made him a tireless advocate of Benjamin Britten and Arnold Schoenberg as well as an illuminating analyst of figures such as Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Mendelssohn. Much of this advocacy was carried out from within the BBC, where he came to hold several senior positions.

Hans Keller’s gift for systematic thinking, allied to his philosophical and psycho-analytic knowledge, bore fruit in the method of ‘Wordless Functional Analysis’ (abbreviated by the football-loving Hans Keller as ‘FA’), designed to furnish incontrovertibly audible demonstrations of a masterwork’s ‘all-embracing background unity’. This method was developed in tandem with a ‘Theory of Music’ which explicitly considered musical structure from the point of view of listener expectations; the ‘meaningful contradiction’ of expected ‘background’ by unexpectable ‘foreground’ was seen as generating a work’s expressive content. An element of Hans Keller’s theory of unity was the ‘Principle of Reversed and Postponed Antecedents and Consequents’, which has not been widely adopted. Hans Keller’s term ‘homotonality’, however, has proved useful to musicologists in several fields.

Hans Keller was married to the artist Milein Cosman, whose drawings illustrated some of his work.

As a man very prominent in the world of ‘contemporary music’ (even working for several years as the BBC’s ‘Chief Assistant, New Music’), Hans Keller had close personal and professional ties with many composers, and was frequently the dedicatee of new compositions. Those who dedicated works to him include:

Benjamin Britten (String Quartet No.3, Op. 94)
Benjamin Frankel (String Quartet No.5, Op.43)
Philip Grange,
David Matthews (Piano Trio No.1; ‘To Hans Keller’)
Bayan Northcott,
Buxton Orr (Piano Trio No.1; ‘In admiration and friendship’),
Robert Simpson (Symphony No.7; ‘To Hans and Milein Keller’).
Robert Matthew-Walker (Piano Sonata No.3 – ‘Fantasy-Sonata: Hamlet’), Op.34

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Dementia Series-Disabled Legend Sir Rudolf Bing

Sir Rudolf Bing was born on 9 January, 1902 in Vienna, Austro-Hungarian Empire and died on 2 September, 1997 from Alzheimer’s disease and respiratory failure aged 95 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Yonkers, New York.

Sir Rudolf Bing was an Austrian-born opera impresario. Sir Rudolf Bing was General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera in New York from 1950 to 1972. Sir Rudolf Bing was knighted in 1971.

Sir Rudolf Bing was born to a well-to-do Jewish family(his father was an industrialist) Sir Rudolf Bing studied at the University of Vienna and as a young man worked in theatrical and concert agencies. In 1927 he went to Berlin, Germany and subsequently served as general manager of opera houses in that city and in Darmstadt.

While in Berlin, he married a Russian ballerina, but in 1934, with the rise of Nazi Germany the Bings moved to Great Britain where, in 1946 Sir Rudolph Bing became a naturalised British subject. There he helped to found the Glyndebourne Festival Opera and, after the war, organized the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland.

In 1949 he went to the United States, to become General Manager of the Metropolitan the following year, a post he held for 22 years. Sir Rudolph Bing supervised the move of the old Metropolitan to its new quarters in Lincoln Center and his administration was, by any account, one of the great eras of Metropolitan Opera. It was summed up as follows:

Wielding his powerful position at the Metropolitan Opera with intense personal charisma over two decades, Sir Rudolf Bing ruled much of the operatic universe in autocratic fashion, nurturing young artists and cutting superstars down to size with equal enthusiasm. Sir Rudolph Bing oversaw the abandonment in 1966 of the stately but somewhat dilapidated old Metropolitan Opera House and the construction of a grand monument to his regime, the building the company now occupies, which dominates Lincoln Center. For good or ill, his conservative musical and dramatic bent, predilection for Italian opera and concern for theatrical values yielded an identifiable artistic legacy.

During Sir Rudolph Bing’s tenure, Marian Anderson became the first African American to sing at the house.

After leaving the Met, Sir Rudolph Bing wrote 2 books, 5000 Nights at the Opera
(1972) and A Knight at the Opera (1981).

Sir Rudolf Bing’s wife Nina died in 1983. In January 1987, he married again and his wife took him to the Caribbean. However, she was reputedly unbalanced, and as he himself had been suffering for many years from Alzheimer’s disease, an American court eventually declared him incompetent to enter into a marriage contract and annulled the marriage. The case was a cause célèbre.

In 1989 Roberta Peters and Teresa Stratas arranged for Sir Rudolph Bing to be admitted to The Hebrew Home for the Aged in Riverdale, Bronx, where he resided until his death.

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