R.I.P. Blanche Moyse | Arts News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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R.I.P. Blanche Moyse

State of the Arts


Published February 16, 2011 at 12:22 p.m.

Blanche Moyse
  • Blanche Moyse

Simply surviving to 101 is an achievement. Amassing accomplishments and spreading the joy of music, as violinist/conductor/teacher Blanche Moyse did, is the very definition of a life well lived.

Moyse, née Violette Blanche Honegger in Geneva, Switzerland, passed away last Thursday at her home in Brattleboro. That’s the town in which she founded a classical music center nearly half a century ago. She also established the music department at Marlboro College and taught there for more than 30 years. In 1951, Moyse expanded the program into a summer retreat, the Marlboro Music School and Festival, along with renowned pianist Rudolf Serkin, violinist Adolf Busch and his cellist brother Hermann, and flutist Marcel Moyse and pianist Louis Moyse — her father-in-law and husband, respectively.

Blanche Moyse developed trouble with her bow arm in the ’60s, and so turned her passions to conducting, particularly the music of Bach. In 1969 she founded the New England Bach Festival at the Brattleboro Music Center and, less than a decade later, formed the Blanch Moyse Chorale. That group earned renown for performing the vocal works of Bach, and Moyse earned a reputation as a tough vocal coach. She conducted the chorale and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall — her debut there — at the ripe young age of 78.

Moyse’s final concert for the Marlboro festival was in 2001; for the New England Bach Festival, in 2004. Her legacy to Vermont, and to the classical music community, is enormous.

Louis Moyse died in 2007. Blanche is survived by her son, Michel, of Brattleboro, and three other children as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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