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Thomas Schippers

Thomas Schippers

(1930 - 1977)

 

Thomas Schippers was an American conductor who in an all too brief career was highly-regarded for his work in opera

As an accomplished child pianist at age four, he later attended the Juilliard School of Music at age 13

Thomas Schippers made his debut at the New York City Opera at the age of twenty-one, and the Metropolitan Opera at age twenty-three.

He conducted world premieres of works by Gian Carlo Menotti and Samuel Barber and then went on to conduct in all the major opera houses of the United States and Europe, most notably the Metropolitan Opera and La Scala.

He also helped found Italy's Spoleto Festival with Menotti and once described "the perfect orchestra" as having "One-third Italian musicians for their line, one-third Jewish for their sound, and a sprinkling of Germans for solidity."

He made recordings with the New York Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony Orchestras and in 1970 took up a full time position with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Regrettably, soon after building the orchestra's international reputation and recording with them, he died of lung cancer at the early age of 47.

Thomas Schippers did, however, leave a rich legacy of opera recordings, and live recordings of his performances are gradually being released on CD. His studio recording of Lucia di Lammermoor with Beverly Sills and Carlo Bergonzi was the first recording made using the glass harmonica in the mad scene.

A good looking, reportedly gay man, rumours of intimate associations with Gian Carlo Menotti, mathemetician Sean Clarke and Leonard Bernstein ran throughout his all too short career, but his loss as an extremely talented conductor to the world of opera was a certainty.

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