This American conductor, born in 1947, was a close friend and an important partner for the last twenty years of Istomin’s career. Schwarz made his debut as a trumpet player (he was the solo trumpet of the New York Philharmonic during Boulez’s time), but his real vocation was conducting. He succeeded Neville Marriner as chief conductor of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in 1978. Then he became the music director of the Seattle Symphony from 1985 to 2011, developing a wider audience. Gerard Schwarz championed contemporary American composers with great conviction. His repertoire was very large, with a predilection for the classical era (he spent twenty years as music director of the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York) and that of post-romanticism (he recorded a complete cycle of Mahler’s Symphonies).
Istomin enjoyed performing Mozart and Beethoven under him, sharing a feeling of mutual understanding. Istomin recorded Mozart’s Concertos K. 467 and K. 491 in October 1995 with Schwarz conducting the Seattle Symphony. It was to be his last record. On the occasion of Istomin’s 75th birthday, Gerard Schwarz wrote to him: “The musical experiences are very prominent in my mind, whether Mozart or Beethoven; but knowing you on a personal level has meant even more to me. Your wisdom, your brilliance, your thoughtfulness and your deep sensitivity have always been an inspiration to me. It is a rare human being who can possess strong opinions, high ideals and yet be such a remarkable friend to so many. You are a dear friend and a great artist.”
A few concerts
August 12, 1978. Waterloo. Beethoven, Concerto No. 4. Waterloo Festival Orchestra.
January 6, 1981. San Francisco, Davies Symphony Hall. Mozart, Concerto No. 21. San Francisco Symphony.
August 19, 1986. New York, Avery Fischer Hall. Mozart, Concerto No. 24. Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra.
August 4, 1990. New York, Avery Fischer Hall. Mozart, Concerto No. 21. Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra.
August 17, 1993. New York, Avery Fischer Hall. Beethoven, Concerto No. 4. Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra.
May 22, 1994. Evian, Grange au Lac. Beethoven, Concerto No. 4. Curtis Symphony Orchestra.
January 1999. New York, Avery Fischer Hall. Beethoven, Concerto No. 3. New York Chamber Orchestra.
Other concerts with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra: information not available.
Mozart. Concertos No. 21 & 24. Seattle Symphony Orchestra. CD Reference Recordings RR-68. October 10, 1995
Mozart. Concerto No. 24 in C minor K. 467, last movement (Allegretto). Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Gerard Schwarz. CD Reference Recordings RR 68