Musicians Honor Their Parents’ Memory with a CD of Beautiful Music to Inspire Future Generations
Austin, TX, Sept. 17, 2020 ̶ Bob and Jim Freeman have both enjoyed wonderful careers in music. Several years ago, they conceived the idea of a CD and commissioned three new pieces of music in memory of their parents, Henry and Florence Knope Freeman, both of whom graduated the Eastman School of Music in Rochester in 1930.
The brothers studied piano and theory at Cambridge’s Longy School while graduating from Milton Academy, studying performance during the summers at Tanglewood, Blue Hill, and Marlboro. They went on to Harvard, where each graduated with honors, followed by travelling fellowships for study in Europe.
Bob took his PhD in music history at Princeton and taught there for five years before moving to MIT, where he made tenure just before moving for twenty-four years to the directorship of the Eastman School ̶ his parents’ alma mater ̶ followed by two years as president of the New England Conservatory, and six as dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin.
Jim went straight from Harvard to Swarthmore College, where he taught and conducted for thirty-seven years, served as departmental chair for sixteen years, and as Daniel Underhill Professor of Music. In 1988 he founded Philadelphia’s new music group Orchestra 2001, directing it until 2015 when he resigned to take on a new ensemble, Chamber Orchestra FIRST EDITIONS. In 1991 he was a Fulbright lecturer and conductor at the Moscow Conservatory, and has returned to Moscow many times since then to give concerts of new American music. Both brothers have made lots of recordings, and have published their share of well-reviewed books and articles.
They came up with the idea of recording a CD, accompanied by a booklet, as a tribute to their parents, Henry and Florence, who were also both musicians and who were also children of musicians; in fact, their father Henry was not allowed to study music until his senior year in high school. Afterwards he performed in the Rochester Philharmonic and Civic orchestras and in the orchestra of WHAM in Rochester. In World War II, he was thrilled to be able to play a private audition for Serge Koussevitzky, where he advanced over twenty-two seasons from last bass to principal, while performing for many years as principal of the Boston Pops.
Their mother, Florence, had a private solo program of her own in Rochester, and later in Boston she had an active freelance career in chamber music while teaching violin and chamber music at Milton Academy. In 1967, they moved to Colorado, where they performed together in the Denver Symphony for five seasons. Retiring at last to their beloved home in the Berkshires, they spent almost every afternoon playing the outer voices of string quartets, with Henry playing the cello parts on the double bass an octave higher so as to reproduce the sounds a cello would have performed.
Two of the composers featured on this CD have won the Pulitzer Prize. Kevin Puts is currently at work on an opera for the Metropolitan Opera. Andrea Clearfield, who took her DMA at Temple, is the founder of the Philadelphia Salon Concert Series, featuring contemporary, classical, jazz, world, and electronic music, together with multimedia and spoken word arts. The late Gunther Schuller was one of the 20th Century’s music stars as composer, conductor, author and administrator. He was a great admirer of their father’s bass playing, and a good friend.
The brothers anticipate the CD being available for sale in the next few weeks, and will be ready to go live around the world January 29, 2021.
Bob and Jim, in issuing their CD Three Tributes for Mom and Dad, hope that it will inspire others to undertake similar projects. Neither of them is aware of any similar event in the history of music where two brothers from a family of professional musicians ̶ spanning at least two generations before them ̶ have commissioned significant works as a tribute to their parents and for future generations to enjoy.
Three Tributes CD