John A Bavicchi, composer of many works for clarinet, died on December 9, 2012

Bavicchi died in bed on December 9, 2012. The obit says that he died peacefully after three or four months of deterioration. He was 90 years old and he surprised many people by leaving us.He had said in the last few years that “death was unacceptable” As some readers of this and other sites are aware, he was a composer of many works for the clarinet, among which are several Sonatas for Clarinet, a several solo clarinet works, a Quintet for woodwinds, composed for The Milwaukee Symphony Woodwind Quintet, which we premiered sometime during the 60s, duets for flute and clarinet, trios for clarinet, viola, clarinet and cello, and many others. They are of considerable interest and difficulty. I have recorded his Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet. the First Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, the Canto #1 for clarinet alone. They are all on The Concordia Commissions. They are still available in some collections. interest to anyone who plays the clarinet and/or who performs contemporary works. He wrote symphonic works for Concert Band, all of which were written for the MIT Concert Band, John D. Corley, director. They toured for 35 years ,probably performing in most universities and many schools nationwide, and several here in Canada, in Montreal. That Band played mostly contemporary works of great difficulty, many of them composed by Mr. Bavicchi for Corley and the MIT Band. In 1989, I toured as soloist with them, performing his clarinet Concerto, dedicated to me. We flew to Florida and played the first performance of that Concerto at Astronaught High School, which was located in Titusville ,Florida. That was a cold February, there was a coating of ice on all the orange groves as they had been sprayed with water to hopefully prevent ruination of the crop. On the way to the city, there were a line of cars along the side of the highway, a two lane highway on the way to Titusville, which is near the Kennedy Space Center. Everyone was out of their cars looking up at the sky, where there was a great amount of white smoke . The shuttle with 8 astronaughts, had just blown up.All were instantly lost. It was a shock for us, and for seemingly the whole world. After a while ,we continued on our way to Titusville, and I guess there was a decision to be made whether or not to perform the premiers of the Concerto for Clarinet and Concert Band, and indeed the entire concert. There was rubble all over the roof of the motel at which the band was housed for that night. Corley made the decision to perform the concert. It was attended by a large, largely silent audience, and I think it went well, though it was a bizarre evening to be sure. We played the entire tour in Florida and it was a mixed bag, as they say. Playing music has been my occupation, and my love, but this was a terribly shocking situation. As some may remember, there was a woman astronaught, who happened to have been an accomplished amateur pianist. The eight deaths and the explosion was felt by the entire world, similar to the Kennedy Assassination. I remember thinking that many people were dying throughout the workd from starvation without so much as a murmur by most. Why was there such a clamor over the explosion of the Shuttle on that February Day?

Actually, I no longer remember some of the comments made by members of the audience, many of whom worked in that industry. I doubt if Astronught High School still exists,(it does, and has about 1200 students)

I played Bavicchis music for about 50 years at least, the last time being a concert at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2006. I premiered two works, one by Thomas McGah, a member of the Faculty, for Clarinet and piano. It had some kind of title with Italien musical expressions , and I lterally slaughtered the performance. It may have been passable, but I remember it as an abject failure. I never ever make a foreign noise on a concert and I did in thie performance, which means to me abject failure. If you are a player, do you feel those failure feelings, ever? The other work was the last work John ever wrote for me, called Six for Two, six short pieces of medium difficulty. Except for one note, which I swore he wrote knowing I would remember forever, and that was a pianissimo high A, with not one note of preparation. Just there, to be played softly. It went, but I was not happy with the quality, and I hated John for writing that A. I should have played it down two octaves. It would have been the same contrasting color and played without worry. Having performed in so many hundreds of concerts or contemporary music, one would think it didn’t matter, but it did to me. And of course, the kindly Bavicchi mentioned that the first three movements were played to perfection. How come that comment stung and has stayed with me to this very day?

I met John Bavicchi in the Cafeteris of the New England Conservatory of Music in 1957, upon being discharged from the US Army, and was attending NEC. I had heard that this person was a composer and I approached him . We had a coffee and I asked if I could buy some of his music for clarinet? He was amazed, truly amazed. He said, you want to buy my music? I thought one paid when one bought or received a piece of music. I imagine that was the thing that interested him, but he was always intensely interested in those who would perform his music.

John Bavicchi wrote the most difficult music for the clarinet as existed at the time. It was not like the Donald Martino “Set for Clarinet”, then considered the most difficult work for clarinet. It was more difficult, always totally driving fast and with unmusical leaps and awkward countertpoint, and always always dissonant.At that time, it was mostly in manuscript, Johns own, quite legible as he frequently worked as a copyist for many composers. He worked fast and was very accurate. Of course, now manuscript is seldom seen as there are all kinds of programs which will print out the parts beautifully; desktop publishing, it was first called, and programs like “Finale” were truly incrdible back in the 60s and 70s, and are still. There are even some apps which will write the music for you. Could that be correct?I do think so,but I cannot attest to the quality.

I am getting to the point where new musc is not as interesting as it once was. I still love the clarinet, and I shall always. It has been my life .

stay well.
RIP John A Bavicchi.

The duets for flute and clarinet are especially accessible , so too is the Second Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano. His OPus 1 is a work for Clarinet Trombone and piano.Perhaps you may wish to avoid that one.


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