Michael Ingham

Ingham, Michael

It was only recently announced that the American baritone and educator Michael Ingham died on January 28, 2020, in Santa Barbara, California, at the age of 75, after suffering a heart attack. Many of us will remember his exemplary appearances as the speaker in Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte, which he and the Ensemble Wiener Collage performed not only at the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna (the first time was in March 1998 at the »Schönberg Festival« that inaugurated the opening of the Schönberg Center), but also at the First Festival of New Music »Música em Novembro« in Lisbon in 1998 and Tokyo/Yokohama in 2007. He was a dependable and accomplished partner of the Ensemble Wiener Collage from its inception, participating in the inaugural concert in 1987 as well as the 10th year anniversary concert, where he performed works by Luigi Dallapiccola and myself.

Michael Ingham was born on July 16, 1944, in Texhoma, on the border between Oklahoma and Texas.

He initially studied at the Denver University, and completed his musical studies at Indiana University. Between 1972 and 2006 Ingham worked in leading positions at the University of California, Santa Barbara, serving as Chairman of the Music Department and as Director of the Opera Program.

He had a broad and diverse interest in contemporary music and above all in the ideas of modernity, and many composers, among them Ernst Krenek (The Dissembler op. 229) und Henry Brant, composed music for him. His selfless commitment especially to Ernst Krenek led to the creation of a festival that documented Krenek’s compositional activity in the United States: consisting of 29 concerts, it was the most comprehensive presentation of Krenek’s works up to that point. Michael Ingham performed in many renowned festivals, including the Wiener Festwochen, the styriarte, the Berliner Festspiele, the Baltimore Chamber Music Society, and the New Hampshire Music Festival. For his last appearance in China, he performed Schoenberg’s Survivor from Warsaw and the Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte with the Symphony Orchestra of the Chengdu Conservatory under my direction. This was an unforgettable experience especially because his meticulous rehearsal of the men’s choir for the Survivor meant that a Chinese choir sang a Hebrew text with convincing pronunciation.

What few people are probably aware of is that Michael was an American intellectual in the tradition of Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal, who always upheld the values of democracy and civil rights. During my last visit, he gave me a copy of the American Constitution and the book Voices of a People’s History of the United States, and told me: »read this and you will understand how we betray our ideals …« I will not only miss his thirst for knowledge and his great interest in new ideas, but also his critical spirit and ingenious analyses …

Albums Featuring this Artist