Frederick Fennell, conductor, passes away

December 9, 2004 at 06:15 AM · I was saddened to read of the recent passing of Frederick Fennell on December 7th. I'm sure most people reading this will be familar with Maestro Fennell, as he was a legendary figure in American music making.

Personally, I greatly enjoy his fine Mercury recordings from the 1960s which were reissued onto CD in the 90s (and probably will be reissued as SACD releases in the future). His Mercury recording of Leroy Anderson, made from recording sessions in 1956, 1958 and 1964 remains one of my most treasured disks.

I am sure we can all take a few moments to reflect on Frederick Fennell and his contribution to American music and music education. He passed away at his home in Siesta Key aged 90 years.

Replies (5)

December 9, 2004 at 06:18 AM · Sat next to him at a meal at Interlochen. I didn't play under his baton, but I did have a lively conversation with him, and what struck me is that he had so much energy, more than 10 campers combined. I know people that worked with him, and I know he'll be greatly missed.

December 9, 2004 at 03:52 PM · I had the pleasure of Playing under Mr. Fennell's Baton in the 1980's and recording the works of Alec Wilder, during which time Mr. Wilder was also present. I will always treasure their Presence, Both as Gentlemen and as Masters of theri crafts.

December 9, 2004 at 09:28 PM · I had the pleasure of playing under his direction at the Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison in the late 60's.

We were doing Debussy Image or something like that and the percussion couldn't get quite the sound he wanted. Anyway, he fished around in his pocket and came up with a silver dollar which he then proceeded to throw clear across the whole orchestra to the percussionist who, luckily, caught it. The idea was to stroke the edge of the silver dollar across a large cymbal to make exactly the kind of shimmering sound he wanted. It worked like a charm.

It was great fun and he was a great conductor.

December 9, 2004 at 10:14 PM · That is wonderful reminiscing from everyone so far. Thanks for the stories. Michael, did Maestro Fennell get his dollar back do you know? ;)

December 10, 2004 at 04:09 PM · Yes, he did. He lent it until the performance and insisted on having it back as, I remember, he said it was magic. Not just any one would do.

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