Mozart, 35. Mendelssohn, 38. Schumann, 46.
And how about others not so famous: Pergolesi, 26. Lili Boulanger, 24.
And composer/organist Jehan Alain, 29.
All of these musicians tragically died young, and the numbers listed after the names are the ages at which these artists died.
And while he was not as young as the musicians listed above, the church music world today was rocked by the sudden death of John Scott, the gifted Organist and Director of Music of St. Thomas Church, New York City.
From the church’s website:
John returned to New York on August 11 after a very successful European tour. He was not feeling well the next morning and suffered a sudden cardiac episode. He was taken to Roosevelt Hospital but never regained consciousness. His wife, Lily, was by his side when he died. John and Lily are expecting their first child in September.
You may remember that I had heard John’s excellent organ recital at the Boston Early Music Festival just two months ago at the First Lutheran Church. Two years ago, also at the First Lutheran Church in Boston, Carl Crosier and I were blown away by his magnificent rendition of Bach’s complete Clavierübung. (Read my post “Organ Mini-Festival Marathon.”) We were introduced to him when we visited St. Thomas Church in New York City a few years ago, and went up to the console after the service. I remember how cordial and welcoming he was to us.
But it was not just his organ playing that was outstanding, however. He directed the Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London from 1990 to 2004, and had been at St. Thomas ever since. James R. Oestreich of the New York Times (March 27, 2015) reviewed his performance of the St. Matthew Passion this past spring, and wrote:
It is too easy to take this choir for granted, so fine are its performances year after year. Since 2004, these have been meticulously prepared by Mr. Scott, the church’s organist and director of music, right down to the seldom-noted commas in chorale texts, noted here without fussiness. The group can rise to a mighty clamor in crowd scenes, but its most remarkable effort on Thursday came in the chorale immediately following the death of Jesus: hushed, sensitive and beautiful.
Here are some of the reactions people are posting on Facebook:
Shocked and heartbroken at this sad news. . . Crushed. Just crushed. . . One just never knows what the day will bring. This is terribly sad news and makes my head spin…only 59, no age at all these days. I feel most for his lovely young wife, pregnant with their child he will never see. Too awful for words. . . Tragic news. A brilliant musician who had so much more to offer. . . A great loss to the Church music world. A very helpful and courteous person to work with and a fantastic organist and musician. . . one of the very finest organists of his time which has now come to such an untimely end. . . Many hearts are broken upon learning of this tragic loss. John Scott brought great beauty to the world through the art of music. Souls were touched, hearts were transformed, and God was glorified by his work. He will be deeply missed.