Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hermann Michael In Memoriam

I just received word that my dear friend and Seattle’s favorite musical guest for 20 years, Hermann Michael, passed away this morning, after a long illness, at his home outside of Munich, Germany.

Hermann first came to Seattle to conduct a Wagner opera production in 1984, and was a beloved regular guest conductor for both the opera and the symphony since then. As this town was the site of his first American appearance, it always held a special place in his heart, and he had a large number of loyal friends and and admirers here. He was one of those rare maestros to whom music was everything, not his own career and fame. When I think of him, I instantly see a smiling face. He radiated love for music and for his musicians, and always managed to make everyone do their best by his positive and inspiring approach. I had the fortune of playing as soloist with him twice, with the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto and also the Brahms Double. We had a perfect musical understanding and could have performed even without rehearsing. Playing the ‘Ring’ cycles with him made those endless hours go by quickly and painlessly.

Like many others, I will miss this incredible musician and human being terribly. I had last spoken with him in May over the phone and had just sent him a letter which he hopefully got to read. I am happy, however, that he is no longer suffering. Death is part of life after all. We all wish he could have been with us much longer, but his time had come. My heart goes out to his wife and family, and other beloved ones.