The violinist, conductor, and educator James Buswell passed away on Tuesday. He was 74.
At the age of seven, Buswell became the youngest soloist ever to appear with the New York Philharmonic. He went on to perform with the world’s top orchestras and as a regular member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. From 1986 to 2014 he served on the faculty of New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.
Buswell’s recording of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto with Marin Alsop and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra was nominated for a Grammy in 2002:
A 1999 recording with Theodore Kuchar and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine features the Violin Concertos of the American composer Walter Piston. Here is the hauntingly beautiful Adagio from Piston’s Violin Concerto No. 2:
In addition to championing the music of numerous contemporary composers, James Buswell was dedicated to the music of J.S. Bach. In 1990, he served as the narrator for the documentary film The Stations of Bach, which commemorated the 325th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
Here is the Adagio ma non tanto from Bach’s Sonata No. 3 in E Major for Violin and Harpsichord, BWV 1016. Buswell is joined by harpsichordist Fernando Valenti on this 2013 album:
- Barber: Violin Concerto, Op. 14, James Buswell, Marin Alsop, Royal Scottish National Orchestra Amazon
- Piston: Violin Concerto No. 2, James Buswell, Theodore Kuchar, National Symphony Orchestra Amazon
- J.S. Bach: Sonata No. 3 in E Major for Violin and Harpsichord, BWV 1016, James Buswell, Fernando Valenti Amazon
Featured Image: violinist James Buswell
2 thoughts on “Remembering James Buswell”
I first encountered James Buswell as a student at Indiana University in the 70’s. I was a composition major with the bass as my concentration. He occasionally conducted orchestra 5, which consisted of non major instrumentalists. I remember his dry sense of humor on the podium. We all appreciated that.
It was almost two decades later, after I had won a position in the bass section of the Boston Symphony Orchestra that we became co faculty members at New England Conservatory.
Rest In Peace.
Thank you, Timothy, for remembering Jamie, who was one of my college roommates and a lifelong friend ever after. It is still difficult to realize that his exuberant energies no longer enliven our world.
I wanted to clarify a detail about his Bach recording with Fernando Valenti. They did all six sonatas for Vanguard Records in early 1969 (my senior year, Jamie’s junior; he was almost two months older, but that’s a long story). The two-LP set appeared in spring 1970, so these performances come from much earlier in his career than their 2013 reissue would lead you to assume. As a result, they don’t reflect how he would have played the pieces more than four decades later. Indeed, by 2013, our dear Fernando had been dead for 23 years.
Thank you again for your tribute to a great artist and an even greater spirit.