elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Kevin Oldham (August 30, 1960 - March 11, 1993)

Kevin Oldham, a pianist and composer who left his hospital bed to perform his own piano concerto with the Kansas City Symphony just 2 months before his death, died on March 11, 1993, at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. He was 32 and lived in Manhattan. He was survived by his companion, Stephen Rotondaro, of Manhattan, a Muppet Workshop designer, and winner of four Emmys for Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design/Styling for Sesame Street, as well as working on puppet costumes for various other Muppet and Sesame projects. (P: courtesy estate of Kevin Oldham)

According to Rotondaro, Kevin composed music from childhood, but after he was diagnosed he became more driven to write new songs. In the final verse of one of the motion picture’s most heartrending pieces, “Not Even if I Try,” with words and music by Oldham, the composer expresses longing for a lost love and trying to keep a connection between life and death.

“I search the stars
I watch the clouds look down to me
My thoughts are clear
My heart is aching
You’re oh so far away
I close my eyes and hold my pillow
And say a prayer for you
I won’t forget. I can’t forget
Not even if I try.”

Mr. Oldham was born in Kansas City on Aug. 30, 1960. He began his formal studies at Northwestern University and won several piano competitions during his three years there, but decided in 1981 to move to New York to study at the Juilliard School. He made his recital debut at Carnegie Recital Hall in 1985.

AIDS Quilt

Mr. Oldham did not study composition formally, but in 1988, around the time he learned that he had AIDS, he became concerned with leaving an artistic legacy and began to devote himself increasingly to composition. Several of his songs and piano pieces were performed in New York before he received his first major commission, for the piano concerto.

He gave the premiere of the work at the Festival of the Atlantic, in Point Pleasant, N.J., in 1991, and he was invited to play it with the Kansas City Symphony in January in a program of works by composers with local roots. A few days before the performance, Mr. Oldham was hospitalized in New York City. But he was determined to give the performance, and traveled to Kansas City for the rehearsals and the concert.

Mr. Oldham was among those interviewed for an article in The New York Times in December about artists with AIDS or H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. "It seems to me that whether you stay alive or not seems to be the trivial part," he said. "It's your work itself that must have a life of its own. If I can make sure that my music will continue to have life, that seems to be the more important consideration."

Source: www.nytimes.com/1993/03/12/obituaries/kevin-oldham-32-pianist-who-started-composing-in-illness.html

More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Gay Classics

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Tags: gay classics, musician: kevin oldham

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