Royce Saltzman, the co-founder of the Oregon Bach Festival, passed away on March 28, 2023, at the age of 94. Saltzman was a passionate advocate for classical music and helped to establish the festival as one of the most important cultural events in the Pacific Northwest.
Saltzman was born in Los Angeles in 1928 and grew up in a family that valued music. He studied musicology at UCLA and later went on to earn a doctorate in music from the University of Michigan. After completing his studies, Saltzman worked as a music professor at the University of Oregon, where he taught for over 30 years.
In 1970, Saltzman and Helmuth Rilling, a German conductor, founded the Oregon Bach Festival. The festival quickly gained a reputation for excellence and attracted musicians and audiences from all over the world. Saltzman served as the festival’s executive director until 1992, and under his leadership, the festival grew in size and scope, featuring not just the music of Bach but also works by other classical composers.
Saltzman was also a strong advocate for music education and worked to make the festival accessible to young people. He established the Youth Choral Academy, which provided opportunities for talented young singers to study and perform with professional musicians. He also helped to establish the Berwick Academy, a program that brought together young musicians from around the world to study with leading performers and conductors.
Throughout his life, Saltzman was recognized for his contributions to the arts. He received numerous awards and honors, including the Governor’s Arts Award from the state of Oregon, the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Oregon, and the National Endowment for the Arts’ prestigious National Medal of Arts.
Saltzman’s legacy lives on through the Oregon Bach Festival, which continues to be a vital part of the cultural landscape of the Pacific Northwest. His dedication to classical music and his commitment to educating young people about the art form will be remembered for years to come.
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