Classic Cole - 1977 Jan deGaetani

FirstObserver wrote on November 14, 2022

There is a note on the page that says this: "Songs were individually recorded from 1930 - 1950. The late mezzo-soprano Jan deGaetani (1933-1989) and pianist Leo Smit."

Perhaps someone should fix this. I would submit a correction, but my submissions have been rejected often enough that it hardly seems worth bothering, although there are so many errors on this site.

MusicalesPeru wrote on November 14, 2022

Unfortunately it seems this site is no longer being administered. Additions and corrections are not being reviewed and corrected. It's a shame because this site is a great resource for collectors. Perhaps someone could offer to take over the site?

FirstObserver wrote on November 14, 2022

Someone has removed the note. Good. It might have been fine to leave a note on DeGaetani. Her Times obit gives much info:

Jan DeGaetani, 56, Singer of Avant-Garde Works By HAROLD C. SCHONBERG Published: September 17, 1989

Jan DeGaetani, an American mezzo-soprano who became a champion of avant-garde music, died of leukemia Friday night in Genesee Hospital in Rochester. She was 56 years old and a resident of Rochester.

Miss DeGaetani developed into one of the most respected singers and musicians on the international scene, and in the opinion of many critics, the finest song recitalist that the United States has ever produced. Her creamy voice was wide in range, perfectly placed and produced, always on pitch and handled with consummate artistry.

Miss DeGaetani, who sang everything but opera, had one of the largest repertories of any singer before the public. It ranged from Renaissance music to Cole Porter. It encompassed the world of German lieder and French chanson. She was as much at home with a Beethoven mass as with a Berlioz song cycle with orchestra. She sang Stephen Foster songs and Victorian ballads.

She was called the Queen of the Avant-Garde by some critics. She sang in many languages as though each were her native tongue. Her concert tours took her all over the world, and she sang with virtually every major orchestra and conductor in such works as Bach's B-minor Mass, Beethoven's Mass in C and Ravel's ''L'Enfant et les Sortileges.''

She was exceptionally well known as a specialist in contemporary music. Many composers, and many specialists, considered that to be the most important part of her work.

Jobs as Secretary and Waitress

At the Juilliard School she developed an interest in contemporary music. Immediately after graduation, she joined the Gramercy Chamber Ensemble and the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. She took many jobs to keep going, including secretarial work, waiting on tables, baby-sitting and occasional television commercials.

The turning point in her musical life came after her graduation in 1955, when in addition to her other work she devoted an entire year to learning Arnold Schoenberg's ''Pierrot Lunaire,'' a seminal work composed in 1912.

Studying ''Pierrot Lunaire,'' she once said, ''opened my mind to endless kinds of beauty, and music hasn't been the same to me since.'' She eagerly sought out other music of the avant-garde, and established a special relationship with many composers.

George Crumb wrote his ''Ancient Voices of Children'' for her. Jacob Druckman, Peter Maxwell Davies, Gyorgy Ligeti and Pierre Boulez all wrote music with her voice in mind, often dedicating the scores to her. She sang the world premieres of many of their compositions. Other composers with whom she was closely associated were Elliott Carter, William Schuman, Richard Wernick and Mario Davidovsky. Her interest in new music made her a hero to the avant-garde, and she soon became a cult figure.

From the beginning, Miss DeGaetani used the same accompanist, Gilbert Kalish, and an unusual rapport developed between them. Critics noted that they thought alike and breathed alike. Miss DeGaetani said their concerts were ''joint recitals, mutual in every respect.''

The Ultimate Gift

She had, in addition to her other natural attributes, the ultimate gift of the song recitalist - the ability to make every member of the audience feel as though she was singing for that person and that person alone.

Donal Henahan of The New York Times wrote after a 1981 concert that Miss DeGaetani had the ability ''to do with apparent ease what most singers find impossible to do at all, which is to sing straight into the listening heart and mind.''

Despite the wide-ranging variety in her programs and the musical difficulties that many posed, she was anything but a dry or intellectual singer. She believed, as she told an interviewer a few years ago, that intuition was at the very least as important as intellect. ''You must use your most opulent, raw, gut intuition,'' she said. ''You don't take that out of yourself when you use your intellect.''

Miss DeGaetani was born in Massillon, Ohio, on July 10, 1933, sang in the church choir there and later said she knew then that she was going to be a singer. Her father, Earl D. Reutz, a lawyer, encouraged his talented daughter, whose given name was Janice. After her marriage to the conductor Thomas DeGaetani, she sang under the name Jan DeGaetani.

Taught at Eastman and Aspen

For many years Miss DeGaetani taught at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester and at the summer festival in Aspen, Colo. Among her pupils were Lucy Shelton, William Sharp, Amy Kaiser and Milagro Vargas.

Miss DeGaetani made more than 35 recordings. They were typical of her repertory, ranging from Renaissance music to music of the current decade. Among her most famous disks are Schoenberg's ''Pierrot Lunaire,'' music by Ravel, George Crumb's ''Ancient Voices of Children,'' a Stephen Foster disk and a recent one named ''Songs of America,'' which received rave reviews.

She made her last record last March while fatally ill. The recording contains 10 Mahler songs and the Berlioz ''Nuits d'Ete.'' It will be released in the fall by Bridge Records.

Her marriage to Mr. DeGaetani ended in divorce in 1966. In 1969 she married the oboist Philip West, also a teacher at Eastman. Mr. West has participated in many of his wife's recitals.

Surviving are her husband; the two children of her first marriage, Mark West of Rochester and Francesca Watson of the Philippines; her mother, Eleanor Ruetz of Portland, Ore., and a sister, Vera McKenna of Portland.

There will be a private service and a memorial this week at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester.

FirstObserver wrote on November 14, 2022

Perhaps just a note like this: Jan DeGaetani (1933-1989) was a much-admired classical mezzo-soprano, known particularly for her performances of contemporary music.

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