Musical Genealogies

Thinking recently about tradition, I compiled genealogies for the lessons I have had in musical composition and in learning to play various instruments.

In composition, I once had lessons on serialist composition with James (“Gentleman Jim”) Penberthy, who in turn had had lessons from Nadia Boulanger. Although every mid-western American city was said to have had a music teacher who’d once been a pupil of Boulanger, the same was not true of Australia. As best I can determine the genealogy is thus:

  • James Penberthy (1917-1999)
    • Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979)
      • Gabriel Faure (1845-1924)
        • Louis Niedermeyer (1802-1861)
          • Emanual Aloys Forster (1748-1823)
            • Johann Georg Pausewang (1738-1812)
        • Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)
          • Fromental Halevy (1799-1862)
            • Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842)

I am greatly pleased to find myself a composition student descendant of Cherubini, whose sublime string quartets influenced and were influenced by those of Mendelssohn.

For piano, I was very privileged to be taught by nuns of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, initially Sr Claver Butler RSM (ca.1930-2009), and then later Sr Clare Castle RSM (ca.1920-2000). Sr Claver enabled me, unlike all her previous students, to encounter music first through an understanding of theory rather than through practice, which (we found through trial-and-error) suited far better my top-down mode of thinking, evident, apparently, even as a child. Sr Clare, with an articulate self-confidence that intimidated others but which enlivened me, left me with the thought that nervousness in performance was to be welcomed, since “placid people never achieve anything.” Although not taught by her, I was also given valuable advice and help by fellow-organist Dot Crowe (ca.1915-1975), a pianist and organist who had led her own swing jazz band in the Northern Rivers of NSW in the 1940s, Dot Crowe and the Arcadian Six.

For tuba, I was taught by my trombonist father and by trumpeter Frederick Wedd (1891-1972). Wedd had been one of the trumpeters selected to play a fanfare for the arrival in Australia in May 1920 of the future King Edward VIII on his 1920 Royal Tour of Australia. For saxophone, my teacher Sig. Leopoldo Mugnai is a great-grand-pupil of Marcel Mule (1901-2001), so that makes me Mule’s great-great-grand-pupil. In violin, I once had some lessons from Mr Leo Birsen, whose genealogy was:

  • Leo Birsen (1902-1992)
    • Jeno Hubay (1858-1937)
      • Joseph Joachim (1831-1907)
        • Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
          • Eduard Rietz (1802-1832)
            • Johann Friedrich Ritz (1767-1828) (ER’s father)
            • Pierre Rode (1774-1830)
              • Giovanni Battista Viotti (1755-1824)

Subsequently, I have had lessons from two fine teachers whose genealogies are as follows. My first teacher Ms Gisela Soares was taught by:

  • Philip Heyman
  • Ryszard Woycicki
    • Stefan Kamasa (1930 – )
      • Jan Rakowski (1898-1962)
        • Karola Wierzuchowskiego
      • Tadeusz Wronski (1915-2000)
      • P. Pasquier

And my second teacher Dr Claudio Forcada was taught by:

  • Goncal Comellas Fabrega (1945- )
    • Joan Massia i Prats (1890-1969)
      • Alfred Marchot (1861-1939)
        • Eugene Ysaye (1858-1931)
          • Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880)
          • Henry Vieuxtemps (1820-1881)

Here, parallel indents show a student of multiple teachers. Thus, Ysaye was taught by both Wieniawksi and Vieuxtemps.
As it happens, Wieniawksi was also a pupil of Vieuxtemps.

Note: This post has been updated several times, most recently on 2023-03-01.

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