Monday, October 21, 2013

Clark Brody Memorial

A couple weeks ago, I went to a service in honor of the life of Clark Brody, former principal clarinet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Clark Brody was born on June 9th, 1913 in Lansing, Michigan.  He studied clarinet first at Michigan State University, and then at the Eastman school of music.  Before he played with the CSO, he was in the Air Force Band and concert orchestra during World War II, and he also played with the CBS Symphony Orchestra from 1941-1950.   He was principal clarinet of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1951-1978 and played under the baton of  Rafael Kubelik, Fritz Reiner, Jean Martinon, and Sir George Solti.  He also was a clarinet professor at Northwestern University from 1972-1995.  He died at the age of 98 in 2012.

I take piano lessons from Mr. Brody's niece Barbara Rubenstein, so I have had the opportunity to hear a lot of stories about Clark Brody.  It is very interesting to learn about both the personal and professional sides of an individual.  I attended the memorial with Barbara and sat next to her during the service.

The service was a very elegant celebration of Mr. Brody's career.  Many people spoke about Mr. Brody and the impact he had upon them.  I especially enjoyed his son, Robert Brody's, very graceful words about his father.  The younger Mr. Brody described an incident in their life when they were travelling.  They were walking through a park where there were many lepers who were obviously suffering.  One of the sick men had fallen off a bench, and many people were walking past him ignoring him, even though it was obvious that the man was trying to get back onto the bench.  Mr. Brody picked up the man, and put him on the bench, made sure he was okay and wished him a good day, as if it were the most natural and expected thing to do.  John Bruce Yeh also spoke about Mr. Brody and how he was very supportive of the 19 year old John Yeh when he first took up a position with the orchestra.  Mr. Yeh talked about how Clark Brody showed him how to play in an orchestra and guided him through his first few years.

Several people performed at the service.  There was a clarinet ensemble made up of former colleagues, friends and students of Clark Brody, and Charlene Zimmerman performed the 2nd movement of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with Toni-Marie Montgomery accompanying.  Charlene Zimmerman is the principal clarinet of the Chicago Lyric Opera.  I have never had the privilege of hearing her play before, and I found her quite wonderful.  She played with a sweet, singing line, and it was one of my favorite interpretations of the 2nd movement.  I think I may have to start saving my money for Lyric tickets...

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