Jeremy Siepmann 1942–2016
April 6, 2016
It was with particular sadness that all at Naxos received the news that Jeremy Siepmann, the indefatigable pianist, teacher, writer and broadcaster, had died on April 6 at the age of 74. Jeremy was latterly very much part of the Naxos family, having produced for the label numerous ebooks, audiobooks and educational CDs focusing on composers’ lives and individual works. Countless lovers of classical music were helped immeasurably by his clarification of the often complex reach of the subject. His legacy also includes numerous engaging, in-depth articles based on meticulous interviews with artists particularly associated with the Naxos label. Discussions about casting his renowned lectures into permanence through a literary or video series for Naxos were sadly left in the air at the time of his death.
Though long resident in England, Jeremy Siepmann was born and formally educated in the United States. Having completed his studies at the Mannes College of Music in New York, he moved to London at the suggestion of Sir Malcolm Sargent in 1964, and eventually joined the staff of London University.
As a writer he contributed articles, reviews and interviews to numerous journals and reference works, some of them being reprinted in book form. These include a widely acclaimed biography of Chopin (The Reluctant Romantic, Gollancz/Northeastern University Press, 1995) and a biography of Brahms (Everyman/EMI, 1997). In December 1997 he was appointed editor of Piano magazine.
His career as a broadcaster began in New York in 1963 with an East Coast radio series on the life and work of Mozart, described by Alistair Cooke as ‘the best music program on American radio’. On the strength of this, improbably, he was hired by the BBC as a humourist, in which capacity he furnished weekly satirical items on various aspects of American life.
After a long break he returned to broadcasting in 1977, devising, writing and presenting more than 1,000 programmes, including the international award-winning series The Elements of Music. In 1988 he was appointed Head of Music at the BBC World Service, where he remained until 1992, broadcasting to an estimated audience of 135 million.
Fortunately for us, Jeremy’s voice and scholarship live on in the Naxos collections that he both inspired, wrote and narrated: these include his Life and Works of the Great Composers series of audiobooks and CDs, the Classics Explained series of CDs taking individual works as their focus, his in-depth, 7-CD, 208-page booklet exploration of Instruments of the Orchestra, plus an ebook set of composer short profiles that range from Domenico Scarlatti to Edward MacDowell.
Jeremy Siepmann Biography & Discography