Cancer Haunts a Composer’s Life and Work

“Bleak” is the predominant adjective in writing about Michael Hersch’s music. “Dark,” “somber” and “anguished” are additionally omnipresent. Little surprise, provided that his topics have included the Sept. 11 terrorist assaults, Dante’s “Inferno,” the Holocaust and situations present in a 1960s psychiatric ward.

But the standard the violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja most associates with Mr. Hersch’s music? Necessity.

“The despair in the music makes it a necessary experience, to play and to listen to,” she stated in a telephone interview lately. “There is nothing you can compare it to.”

Ms. Kopatchinskaja is the music director of this yr’s Ojai Music Festival in California, which runs from June 7 to 10 and offers pleasure of place to Mr. Hersch’s work, together with a brand new piece of music theater, “I hope we get a chance to visit soon.” Ms. Kopatchinskaja, who has commissioned a number of works from him, might have requested for an additional for violin, however stated she most popular to offer him free rein.

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