Boston University Mourns the Passing of Anthony di Bonaventura, School of Music Professor and Legendary Pianist

in CFA, CFA Newsmakers, Music
November 14th, 2012

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Boston, MA – The Boston University College of Fine Arts (CFA) mourns the death of Anthony di Bonaventura, Professor of Music for the School of Music for nearly four decades. Di Bonaventura passed away on Monday, November 12, 2012, his 83rd birthday.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved Professor di Bonaventura,” says Benjamín Juárez, Dean of the Boston University College of Fine Arts. “A major figure in the music world since his debut as a child prodigy, Tony enriched the School of Music with his passionate commitment to musical excellence and his advocacy of new music by such luminaries as Ligeti, Berio, Ginastera, and Persichetti, all of whom wrote music for him.”

In addition to his position at Boston University, di Bonaventura was director of the Brandywine International Piano Institute at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. He performed in 27 countries, appearing in recital and with the major orchestras and conductors of the world. He has appeared in the Great Performers Series at New York’s Lincoln Center and at such major music festivals as Saratoga, Ann Arbor, Bergen (Norway), Spoleto and Lucca (Italy), and Zagreb (Yugoslavia). His recordings for Columbia, RCA, Connoisseur Society, and Sine Qua Non have consistently received highest acclaim. Current releases include three compact discs on the Titanic label, consisting of Fourteen Scarlatti Sonatas, the complete Preludes, op. 32 of Rachmaninoff, and an all-Chopin recording of his late works. In addition, forthcoming releases include16 Scarlatti Sonatas and works of Schubert and Prokofiev.

Acknowledged as a master teacher of international stature, di Bonaventura has given master classes at UCLA, University of Michigan, Eastman School of Music, Brigham Young University, North Carolina School for the Arts, University of Toronto, University of Texas, Tulane University, and the Yamaha School of Singapore, among others. In May 1992, Professor di Bonaventura was awarded the Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence, Boston University’s highest award for excellence in teaching. In May of 2002, he was given an honorary doctorate from Husson College. At the Graz Festival in Austria in the fall of 1986, di Bonaventura gave the world premiere performance of Gyorgy Ligeti’s Concerto for Piano, written especially for him, followed by performances of the concerto in Vienna, Paris, London, St. Louis, and New York’s Carnegie Hall. Other world-renowned composers who have written expressly for the artist include Luciano Berio, Vincent Persichetti, Milko Keleman, and Alberto Ginastera, whose Second Sonata was given its world premiere by the pianist in 1982. In 1991, di Bonaventura gave the Netherlands premiere of Witold Lutoslawski’s Piano Concerto, with the composer conducting, followed by performances of the work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Polish National Radio Symphony, and the San Francisco Symphony (January 1993) on the occasion of the composer’s 80th birthday.

Professor di Bonaventura began his piano studies at the age of three and gave his first professional concert at four, won a scholarship to New York’s Music School Settlement at six, and appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic at thirteen. At sixteen, he became the pupil of the celebrated Russian teacher, Madame Isabelle Vengerova, and later entered the Curtis Institute from which he graduated with highest honors. Enthusiastic acclaim by critics and audiences alike came early in his career. His brilliant performances in an early European tour led to his selection by Otto Klemperer, the great conductor, to perform the complete Beethoven Concerti at the London Beethoven Festival. Professor di Bonaventura is survived by his 5 children; Christopher di Bonaventura, AZ Greene, Peter di Bonaventura, Sarina Birsh and Betsey Brown and his 14 grandchildren. Also survived by his eldest brother, Mario di Bonaventura. He is predeceased by his wife Muriel Applebee di Bonaventura.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, November 19 at 10 a.m. in Sacred Heart Parish, 1321 Centre St. Newton Centre. Interment will be private. Visiting hours will be held Sunday from 2-5 p.m. at the Henry J. Burke & Sons Funeral Home, 56 Washington Street, Wellesley Hills, MA.

In lieu of flowers, charitable donations in Professor di Bonaventura’s memory may be made to Boston University College of Fine Arts, care of the Office of Development, 855 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA, 02215. To honor his legacy, donations will support need-based scholarships for gifted students at the School of Music.

Read more about Professor di Bonaventura on the Boston Globe

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized private research university with more than 30,000 students participating in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. BU consists of 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission. The Boston University College of Fine Arts was created in 1954 to bring together the School of Music, the School of Theatre, and the School of Visual Arts. The University’s vision was to create a community of artists in a conservatory-style school offering professional training in the arts to both undergraduate and graduate students, complemented by a liberal arts curriculum for undergraduate students. Since those early days, education at the College of Fine Arts has begun on the BU campus and extended into the city of Boston, a rich center of cultural, artistic and intellectual activity.

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