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Tributes to Jens Nygaard

“Jens Nygaard was not a miniature man.  He was, if anything, the very embodiment of the sheer vastness and unfathomable diversity of music itself.…  Jens Nygaard, to me, was precious, a man apart, of the power and spirit beyond this place.…  He would have hated hearing me pay him homage like this…but it is very important to remember people like Jens Nygaard, who show us all the boundless possibilities of our lives as musicians and human beings.  Important to honor those who have enriched our lives with love and beauty so intense that it cannot diminish with the passing of time.”  Sara Davis Buechner, November 7

 “He was a most unusual man.  Only once or twice in a life-time is a person lucky enough to meet such a man who was not only a brilliant musician and a great conductor, he was also kind, thoughtful and generous.  Some of the best performances of the Beethoven symphonies I ever heard were those conducted by Jens.…  Like the great composer he did his best to communicate through his conducting especially the music of Beethoven, Schubert, and Mozart, their love of life and of people, but in a mysterious, almost palpable way, the love of life AND art which made the great composers great and Jens the great man and musician which he was.  Like his illustrious predecessors who are in their own way still with us, Jens too, because of his unusual way to communicate through his conducting his love of life and people, he, too, will be with us for many, many years to come.”  Douglas Townsend, October 18 

“A genius like him comes along once in a lifetime and thousands will miss this energetic, wise, and vastly talented music-maker”  Albert Kay, September 24 

“We have all become orphaned.  Yet we consider ourselves truly and deeply fortunate to have been part of the Jupiter family, and Jens, its indomitable leader, will remain in our hearts always.”  Hans Gesell, September 24 

 “We’ve lost a giant, but his indomitable spirit lives on.”  Mary Lous Falcone & Nicky Zann, September 26

 “When Jens gets to Heaven the music angels had better tune up their harps and look sharp, for Jens will expect no less than perfection.”  Lillian Greene, September 28 

“No one can even stand in Jens’s shoes: he was—is so uniquely talented as a great teacher.  What he felt about music, he was able to impart to others, which is such a rare gift.…  One of the things that Jens has taught me, I used to feel ashamed that I could not play an instrument, but just listening to the Jupiter Symphony led me to realize that just by listening, I could contribute and participate in music.”  Christine Allen, October 5 

Dear Fate, Thanks for the chance to find some of the splendor of Jens Nygaard and his art in this world.  Blessings abound though rarely so rich.”  Dave Lyon, October 8 

“Dear Jens, Thank you.  For living a life unlike any other and sharing it.  For your love, strength, knowledge, originality, conviction, care, enthusiasm.  For musical practices—launching a ¾ with “Here it comes” and crispifying a dotted rhythm—and spectacular beauty.  The most exciting performances.  We’ll love you always.”  John Frisch, October 8 

“You made such a difference in my life….  Thanks to you, my musical education and appreciation broadened and deepened.”  Jane Fina, October 8 

“Jens Nygaard was a friend—and a hero.  His music in my church [West Park Presbyterian] filled the space with grace & beauty.  His gift of treating each day as a gift is a lesson that spoke to my own faith.  His spirit remains with me and I will seek to keep him alive in my heart, my work, and my approach to life.”  Rev. Bob Brashear, October 2001

 “I’ve never left one of his concerts the same person as I was on the way in.” John Herzfeld, October 2001

 “In Jupiter’s Orbit” ~ “He lived the likes of many lives, / his intensity, contagious enthusiasm drew magic from the air. / He sought truth in music, gave candor in thought, / concern for those he helped, in small and large manner. / He loved to teach and share his vast knowledge. / His dedication and style were admired by world-known performers.… / He set out on a mission to understand and conduct, / and present what he thought was most important / a concern for beauty and the harmony of sound / that would permeate the spirit of listeners and unite.  He enabled togetherness of purpose and sound that / elevated his audience to regions beyond and touched many within.”  Sylvia Lichtenstein, October 2001

 “Maestro, Where Are You?”  October 2001

 “Jens was the Johnny Appleseed of musical ideas and influence.  I feel so grateful that I knew him and just hope I can remember everything he said!!” Katherine Benfer 

“His concerts were such a relief for those of us numbed by routine music-making.”  Clayton and Margaret Heydorn

 “How I looked forward to those Monday afternoons and the happiness I felt each time.  They were truly the highlights of my week—not only for the music he made but his sharing of thoughts and insights—he was like no other—a wonderfully unique man.  I remember the night of the documentary and the response of the audience.  Never have I felt so much love in one place.  It was overwhelming.”  Vivian Barr 

“Jens Nygaard mattered!  His legacy matters still.  His music, his dedication, his unique and singular personality made an indelible mark on all of us whose lives he touched.…   I feel that I loved him in my way!  I am deeply grateful for the beauty he shared with me.  I always felt that a personal connection was made at his concerts, and I know that I will think of him always when I hear some of the music that he introduced me to.  His enthusiasm for those pieces is now my enthusiasm.  I will miss his physical presence at concerts, but his spirit will remain with me as long as music is in my life.”  Harriet Kanstroom

 “Friend—“adopted brother”—musician extraordinaire who opened my heart & mind to the joyful wonders of music.”  Phyllis Mollé 

“Jens Nygaard was a precious gift to our city that can never be replaced.  How sorely he will be missed by all who had the opportunity to attend his wonderful concerts.”  Vera Olichney 

“He was absolutely infused with the music, whatever he was working on at the moment.  His technique—and he had technique spilling over—was always at the service of the music, for the love of the music.  There was no performance ‘persona’ and his directing on stage was extremely conservative, for all that we read of, and for all that he talked of, his being a maverick and outside the mainstream.  He laid the beat down and never acted in the least.…  Seeing him work in rehearsal was an education.  He would effuse, cajole, edify, preach, explain, and yes, get angry at times.  But it was always the music that was uppermost in his thoughts.  He wanted to do anything to get the music right.  I saw him dress down the second violins with great thunder and volume, when they didn’t get an accent the way he wanted, after two passes.  The third time it happened just as he wanted, and the cloudburst was over as quickly as it had rolled in; he was truly joyful as he praised the seconds to the skies.  This happened right before the break and as the players stood to walk to the back room to get coffee Jens strode up to the principal second and wrapped his arms around him, kissed him on the cheek, and whispered something in his ear.  This is the way Jens was, always totally open, and always for everyone to see.  I imagine that’s a dangerous way to conduct your life, let alone an orchestra, but the players understood it.  He loved his players.…  They knew what he was like, they knew he was unlike anyone else.  But they knew he was real, as real as a thunderstorm or as tears rolling down your face.  As real as music.  They knew that every performance, whatever the piece, was an occasion for greatness.”  Kile Smith

"Dear Jens: Just a short note to let you know how fabulous Barbara and I thought the concert was last night.  The passion and lyricism of the Mendelssohn swept us away.  The imagery of the Ketelby was vivid.  But, the Gershwin was...one of the most special experiences we have ever had.  It served to remind us of the breadth and depth of your musicianship.  To know a piece so well, and yet to be excitedly surprised as though we were hearing it for the first time.  To wonder in awe at your command of the intricate multiple rhythms.  To revel in the seamless interchange between the orchestra and yourself. Thank you for sharing your excellence with us.  New York is an even more special place because of you."  The Andolsens, March 15, 2000

"I just had to post something after the extraordinary concert given by Maestro Nygaard and The Jupiter Symphony last night in New York. Featured were works by Meyerbeer, Raff (Winter Symphony) Liszt (Angelus) and Wagner (Wiesendock Songs). Nygaard preliminarily noted that all four composers were related. The first piece was the L'etoile du nord overture. Few are familiar with this piece, so let me say this: it is both powerful and beautiful, but it is complex in a typical Meyerbeer "layered" sound fashion. In the setting of this church with its small orchestra, chamber sized, it would have been impossible to believe that this overture could be successfully presented -- yet, despite the fact that the horn player had to double at the piano (there was no harp), every note of the piece was heard sharply. I think the biggest contribution Nygaard has made in his interpretation of the piece is in two modifications of the tempo (when I speak of modification, I mean modified as opposed to the Wexford recording of 1996) and the precision of all the orchestral elements. This consisted of a slight quickening of the delightful "dream" melody in the middle of the piece, and a markedly slower coda. For if one were to criticize the Wexford rendering, the weakness is in the sloppiness (particularly of the lagging brass) of a too quick coda. Here, Nygaard displayed the disparate elements so that one could appreciate the complexity of the fusion of the musical themes, and the brass was precise. And a word must be said too of the genuinely heartfelt playing of the principal oboist, Gerard Reuter, who was a standout! Of the audience, few of whom have ever heard Meyerbeer before, there were goosebumps during the piece, and cheers thereafter, such was the music of Meyerbeer. It was able to inspire and make them curious as to this unknown and underplayed composer. And here I think, we can turn philosophical as well -- it was an audience with open ears, free to hear both Wagner and Meyerbeer in the same program -- this is as it should be, for the prejudices of the past on both sides have no place where it comes to the love of music. And from this Meyerbeerian, know this this: the Wagner songs were glorious, and I believe the master (Meyerbeer) would have thought so too! Here is what we asked for: present Wagner within its historical perspective -- therefore, you must also perform Meyerbeer. Many thanks for reading this!" Stephen Agus, Meyerbeer Fan Club, November 2, 1999


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