Classical Seattle

Maestros, Impresarios, Virtuosi, and Other Music Makers

Melinda Bargreen

  • Published: 2015. Paperback July 2017
  • Subject Listing: Pacific Northwest / Art and Culture; Performing Arts; Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir
  • Bibliographic information: 368 pp., 40 bandw, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

The past 50 years have seen a tremendous arts boom in Seattle, which has given the city not only internationally recognized classical music institutions but also great performance halls to showcase their work and that of visiting artists. From Igor Stravinsky's presence as guest conductor at the World's Fair in 1962, to Speight Jenkins's masterly production of Wagner's Ring cycle, to the work of benefactors such as Jack and Becky Benaroya, Seattle is deservingly well known as a city of the musical arts.

In Classical Seattle, Melinda Bargreen documents the lives of prominent figures in the local classical music world. Informed by Bargreen's experience as a music critic and drawing on interviews she conducted over several decades, the 35 biographical profiles presented here illuminate the conductors, performing artists, composers, arts organizers, and arts leaders who have shaped Seattle's classical music community and made world-class performances possible. Among the individuals featured are University of Washington virtuosi, Seattle Symphony maestros and musicians, and Seattle Opera directors.
Melinda Bargreen, a Seattle-based writer and composer, was classical music critic for the Seattle Times from 1977 to 2008. She is the author of 50 Years of Seattle Opera.

"Bargreen offers compelling personal insights into her subjects' lives as performers and residents of our region. No other book provides such a well-informed and well-written perspective focusing exclusively on Seattle's classical community."
-Dave Beck, KING FM

"Few if any observers of music in Seattle know the city, and the art, as well as Melinda Bargreen does. She has chronicled the culture, with its triumphs and struggles, leaders and supporters, ambitions and occasional delusions, with a clear eye. She savors the past, celebrates the present, and contemplates the future with realistic sympathy. Her wide-ranging account is notable for aesthetic sensitivity, literary brilliance, and, yes, wit."
-Martin Bernheimer, Pulitzer Prize winning music critic

"This is a love letter to the musical community of Seattle, both past and present, with no character overlooked. Classical Seattle contributes to the rich cultural life of Seattle and through Bargreen's attention to detail, almost always presented with great affection, one feels a part of this community. Her deep respect for this wonderful musical city makes her a giant herself."
-Flicka von Stade

"An astounding book. Melinda Bargreen brings Seattle, and its colorful cast of characters on and offstage, to life in vivid detail. Eminently readable and thoroughly enjoyable, Classical Seattle is a treasure written by the single person with the perspective to bring it all together. Music lovers everywhere will love this book!"
-Jon Kimura Parker, concert pianist and professor of piano, Shepherd School of Music, Rice University

"Having grown up ensconced in the Seattle music world, I thought I knew many of the personalities in this book, but Bargreen makes their stories and backstories as fascinating and colorful as their rich musical legacies. If music is important to your life, you will find Classical Seattle an incredibly compelling and inspirational read."
-Aloysia Friedmann, violinist, violist, and founder and artistic director of the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival


Milton Katims: The Toscanini Prot
Rainer Miedel and Cordelia Wikarski Miedel: The Maestro and the Maestra
Gerard Schwarz: The Consummate Music Director
Ludovic Morlot: The Symphonic Innovator
Peter Er s: The Old-School Maestro
Vilem Sokol: The Patron Saint Of The Podium
Stephen Stubbs: The Early-Music Innovator
George Shangrow: The People's Maestro
Resident Conductors: The Vital Links in the Music Community

Glynn Ross: The Bantam of the Opera
Speight Jenkins: The Ring Master
Toby Saks: The Impresaria
Louis Richmond: The Chamber Orchestra Pathfinder

Béla Siki: The Elegant Stylist
John Cerminaro: The Man With The Golden Horn
Randolph Hokanson: The Old Master
Silvia Kind: The Free Spirit Of The Harpsichord
Eva Heinitz: The Greatest Gambist
Robin McCabe: The Keyboard Diplomat
Ronald Phillips: The Consummate Clarinetist
Craig Sheppard: The Classicist Of The Ivories

Alan Hovhaness: The Composer of the Mountains
William Bolcom: The Compositional Innovator
Samuel Jones: The Harmony Seeker

William and Ruth Gerberding: The Couple Who Made Things Happen
William Bain, Jr.: The Architect Of The Boardroom
Hans Lehmann: The Renaissance Man
Samuel N. Stroum: The Mover And Shaker
Deborah (Card) Rutter: The Power Behind The Podium
Sam and Gladys Rubinstein: The Key Advisors
Buster and Nancy Alvord: The Practical Donors
Jerry and Lenore Hanauer: The Imaginative Operaphiles
John and Laurel Nesholm: The Activists For The Arts
Charles Simonyi: The Genius Philanthropist
Jack and Becky Benaroya: The Ultimate Benefactors


"Melinda Bargreen's Classical Seattle is a who's who of the city's classical-music scene over the past half-century, an entertaining recapitulation of interviews she did while serving as the music critic for The Seattle Times and writing for other publications."
-Ellen Emry Heltzel, Seattle Times