Parnassus Blog

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Milton Katims

When I was growing up in Brooklyn, my father would occasionally take me to rehearsals of the orchestra he played in, the Brooklyn Community Symphony Orchestra. It rehearsed and performed at Brooklyn College--which I eventually attended--under the direction of the principal violist and assistant conductor of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, Milton Katims. In 1954, when I was eleven, Katims accepted a position as music director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. He remained at that job for more than twenty years, raising the orchestra's status from a provincial orchestra to a major one.

Recently I had some correspondence with Mr. Katims, who was again living in Seattle after a period of directing the University of Houston's School of Music. He wrote about his pleasant memories of the Brooklyn Community Symphony, and kindly sent me a copy of his privately made CD including some of his viola recordings.

Katims died on February 27, at the age of 96. Aside from his immense contributions in Seattle, he was a world class violist and left us recordings of superb chamber music collaborations--many of them with the Budapest Quartet--and even a few solos. He remained active almost to the end of his life, giving up his beloved tennis sessions only last year. He was a great musician and a gracious man, and we are all the poorer without him.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Fine coincidences

I love it when my favorite things come together. Through no effort of mine, Parnassus's "house string quartet," the Colorado Quartet, has been involved in collaborations with our "house composer," Katherine Hoover. Hoover has just written a second string quartet for the Colorado String Quartet, which will be performing it in a number of venues. One of those is right in our neighborhood, Bard College, where the CSQ will play on Sunday afternoon, April 9, a program which also includes Beethoven's Op. 18, No. 4, and Schubert's Quartet in G, D. 887. I hope some Parnassus customers may be able to get to this concert, which is at Bard's Olin Hall at 3 PM. There isn't even any admission charge!