Major Philip Glass, John Cage Supporter Dies
Wed, 07 Jan 2009 16:44:22
Betty Freeman, a major supporter of contemporary classical music, died of pancreatic cancer in her Beverly Hills home on Saturday. She was 87.
Over the course of four decades, Freeman commissioned pieces from nearly 80 composers, including John Cage, Philip Glass and Pierre Boulez. The range of her monetary contributions was wide, running from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands.
"I cannot think of many individuals whose actions would have had a more profound effect on our art form or culture in general," Esa-Pekka Salonen, music director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, told the Los Angeles Times.
"Her greatest effect was as a kind of focal point for artistic activity," John Adams—who dedicated his "Nixon in China" opera to Freeman—added. "If Betty had a dinner, everyone came. You didn't say no, partly out of respect and love for her and partly because you knew it was going to be a really exciting evening."
As Freeman explained to The New York Times in 1998, "I've always been interested in the new, and don't understand why everybody isn't. I like contemporary painting, clothing, furniture, architecture. So of course I like contemporary music. Old music is fine. But I like complexity, challenge, ambiguity, abstraction."
—The ARTISTdirect Staff