Tribute to the Late Michael Steinberg, Sunday October 4

A public celebration of Michael Steinberg, the prolific musicologist who died in July, will be held on the campus of the University of Minnesota on Sunday, October 4. If I can find a link to a radio broadcast, I’ll add it to this page.

To me, Michael Steinberg was originally a name I kept seeing on liner notes I was reading as a music student, then came his Listening Guides and other books. He was also a music critic for the Boston Globe and a frequent writer of program notes for several major orchestras.

To lucky audiences in San Francisco (where his wife, Jorja Fleezanis, was a violinist) and then in the Twin Cities (where she was the concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra), Steinberg was a beloved musical personality, popular for his accessible pre-concert lectures. Audiences outside those cities could hear his commentary on NPR — he even performed as a narrator on occasion.

To get a taste of what you might have been missing, listen to Michael Steinberg on his appreciation for the Symphony genre, followed by a commentary on Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis:

 

After Steinberg’s death on July 26, wonderful tributes were posted by dozens of journalists, bloggers and colleagues. Here is a representative accolade from Yvonne Frindle:

He never lost sight of the central goal of a concert program note, which is to help the listener. (Not to inform the casual reader, although he does that too, but to guide the person who is at the concert, listening.)

There is so much to praise and to emulate in Michael Steinberg’s writing. Not simply the lucid expression and the musical insight, but the deft analogies and metaphors, so aptly chosen, so vivid and so original. But one of the things that inspired me the most was the way he injected his sheer love of music into everything he wrote.

The other thing which inspired me from the outset was the way his notes were written from the perspective of someone who had been there. He didn’t just know the music he wrote about, he hadn’t merely researched it – he’d helped plan performances of it, heard it in rehearsal, discussed it with conductors and soloists, experienced it in concert. And he wrote this way.

NPR obituary by Tim Huizinga and NYT obituary

Minnesota Public Radio

Steinberg’s Liner Notes are celebrated by Ronen Givorny

Donations:

The Michael Steinberg & Jorja Fleezanis Fund to Spur Curiosity and Growth through the Performing Arts and the Written Word

Attn. Shelli Chase
CHASE FINANCIAL
7900 Xerxes Avenue South, Suite 910
Minneapolis, MN 55431.