Tag Archives: Obituary

Cla Nett: Passionate Blues musician, dedicated lawyer

On 27 September 2021, Cla Felice Nett, lawyer, musician and SUISA member since 1981 passed away after a long and severe illness. Obituary by guest author Marco Piazzalonga

Cla Nett: Passionate Blues musician, dedicated lawyer

Clat Nett was a regular visitor of the SUISA General Meeting; shown here during the 90th GM of the Cooperative Society in the Hotel Schweizerhof in Lucerne back in 2013. (Photo: Beat Felber)

Cla spent his early life in Engadine. Just before he started school, his family moved to Basel where his father began working as a teacher. After primary school, Cla went to a humanistic high school where he graduated with A levels type A (Latin and Greek). Following that, he completed law studies at the University of Basel where he acquired a “cum laude” licenciate.

Already as a teenager, Cla was a fan of the Blues, mainly self-taught how to play the guitar and started performing with his first bands. In 1975, he founded the Lazy Poker Blues Band with whom he was able to celebrate successful times in the 1980s and 1990s, both at home and abroad.

Cla and his formation played to an audience of 45,000 as representatives for Switzerland at the “Concert for Europe” in the Berlin Olympic Stadium, accompanied Joe Cocker for one month through Germany, toured the then GDR, recorded longplays in Chicago and played in clubs and at Open Airs all across our country.

Cla Nett managed to link music with his legal training. In the Board Committee and as President of the Expert Committee of Phonographic Producers at Swissperform and as Managing Director at the Swiss Performers’ Cooperative, SIG, he was able to contribute his know-how and experience. Cla also worked as an associate judge at the court of appeals in Basel.

Due to health-related reasons, Cla had been forced to take it easy over the last few years when it came to music and job. Even this year, in July, he practically fought his way out of bed to the stage of the Magic Blues Festival in the Valle Maggia in order to play with his Lazy Poker Blues Band one last time. Cla Nett leaves behind a wife, two adult children and one grandchild.

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On 27 September 2021, Cla Felice Nett, lawyer, musician and SUISA member since 1981 passed away after a long and severe illness. Obituary by guest author Marco Piazzalonga

Cla Nett: Passionate Blues musician, dedicated lawyer

Clat Nett was a regular visitor of the SUISA General Meeting; shown here during the 90th GM of the Cooperative Society in the Hotel Schweizerhof in Lucerne back in 2013. (Photo: Beat Felber)

Cla spent his early life in Engadine. Just before he started school, his family moved to Basel where his father began working as a teacher. After primary school, Cla went to a humanistic high school where he graduated with A levels type A (Latin and Greek). Following that, he completed law studies at the University of Basel where he acquired a “cum laude” licenciate.

Already as a teenager, Cla was a fan of...read more

Erika Hug: Committed and combative

SUISA and FONDATION SUISA are mourning Erika Hug. The publisher and entrepreneur had been influencing the promotion of Swiss music creation for more than three decades, on the SUISA Board of Directors, as a co-founder of FONDATION SUISA and as the president of the foundation board. She passed away unexpectedly on 14 July 2021 at the age of 76. Obituary by Andreas Wegelin and Urs Schnell

Erika Hug: Committed and combative

Erika Hug (1945-2021). (Photo: FONDATION SUISA / Musik Hug)

The Swiss music scene is mourning the loss of Erika Hug, publisher and owner of the established and traditional music business. She passed away completely unexpectedly on 14 July 2021.

Erika Hug had taken on leadership of the renowned Zurich music company as a young woman in the sixth generation. Apart from traditional publishing and sheet music business, the company grew well in the 1980s and entered the new sales business with CDs at an early stage. With her husband, German music entrepreneur Eckard Harke, the sales of music instruments also saw a strong development. One speciality were the two Steinway Piano Galleries in Lausanne and Zurich.

The profound changes in the music business in the course of internet digitisation led to a decline in demand for sheet music, sound recordings or instruments after the turn of the millennium. The Swiss-wide branch network was reduced at the start of the 2000s and the company was finally sold in 2017.

Contribution at SUISA and FONDATION SUISA

Over many years, Erika Hug had been giving her know-how and experience as an entrepreneur to the Cooperative Society, SUISA and the FONDATION SUISA by way of being a member of the SUISA Board of Directors and of the Pension Board of the FONDATION SUISA. From 1985 to 1995, Erika Hug was a Board member of the Cooperative Society SUISA and President of their committee for international relations.

Erika Hug was a founder member of the SUISA foundation for music (today: FONDATION SUISA) in 1989. For 27 years, until the end of 2015, she had been a member of the Foundation Board. From 1990 onwards, Erika Hug first presided the Finance Committee of the Foundation, from 1996 onwards, she became Vice President. Finally, from 2005 she led the Foundation for 10 years as President of the Foundation Board.

Erika Hug had been a major influence on the Cooperative Society and the Foundation over the last 30 years as a publisher and expert in the music business sector. She got involved when it came to access to music and to playing an instrument, especially also with respect to the younger generation and less well-off members of society. The project “make music in the classroom” of FONDATION SUISA is a proof for this. Erika Hug was also a fighter for more women in music and in business.

We mourn a great Swiss personality when it comes to bringing music to the people, and we are grateful for her commitment in the managing committees of our Cooperative Society and Foundation and would like to express our heartfelt condolences to her family.

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  1. Ho avuto il piacere di lavorare con Erika Hug per 14 anni nel Consiglio di fondazione della Fondazione Suisa per la musica e, di questa donna, ho sempre apprezzato la chiarezza d’intenti nel promuovere la musica “Made in Switzerland”, la tenacia e le brillanti idee.
    Un’altra sua qualità che ho sempre apprezzato in lei era la capacità di saper mettere a proprio agio le persone, di saperle ascoltare e, se le idee che venivano proposte le sembravano buone, di impegnarsi nella realizzazione senza mai risparmiarsi.
    Di lei serberò sicuramente un buon ricordo.
    R.I.P. Erika

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SUISA and FONDATION SUISA are mourning Erika Hug. The publisher and entrepreneur had been influencing the promotion of Swiss music creation for more than three decades, on the SUISA Board of Directors, as a co-founder of FONDATION SUISA and as the president of the foundation board. She passed away unexpectedly on 14 July 2021 at the age of 76. Obituary by Andreas Wegelin and Urs Schnell

Erika Hug: Committed and combative

Erika Hug (1945-2021). (Photo: FONDATION SUISA / Musik Hug)

The Swiss music scene is mourning the loss of Erika Hug, publisher and owner of the established and traditional music business. She passed away completely unexpectedly on 14 July 2021.

Erika Hug had taken on leadership of the renowned Zurich music company as a young woman in the sixth generation. Apart from traditional publishing and sheet music business, the...read more

Julien-François Zbinden: an extra-ordinary force of personality

On 8 March 2021, Swiss composer and jazz pianist Julien-François Zbinden passed away. He was 103 years’ old. Julien-François Zbinden was President of SUISA from 1987 to 1991. Obituary by Xavier Dayer, President of SUISA

Obituary Julien-François Zbinden: an extra-ordinary force of personality

Julien-François Zbinden in a photo from 2000. (Photo: Jean-Pierre Mathez)

It is with great sadness that we received the news that Julien-François Zbinden had passed away. A highly esteemed honorary member and former president of SUISA (from 1987 to 1991) has left us at the age of 103. We shall always remember the sparkle in his eyes. The memory, still fresh, of his one hundredth birthday celebrated with a small circle of very close friends in the heights of Lausanne is still very much alive. What energy, what extra-ordinary force of personality. On that occasion, he stood up before his guests and gave a speech so very presidential and full of his customary wit.

Yes indeed – with his charm and conviction, Julien-François Zbinden will have marked Swiss music throughout many years. There is no need for reminder of the stylistic opening between classical music and jazz which he incarnated so well, nor of the exceptional work capacity of a man who lived for music. A man who had rubbed shoulders with the greatest: he had known Francis Poulenc, Igor Stravinsky, Clara Haskil, Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grappelli, Fernandel and Juliette Gréco.

But he also marked SUISA very positively through his presidency and constancy. He would attend the general meetings whenever he could or, if his health did not allow him to do so, he would send us a note full of kindness and consideration. He came from a time where form and manner were guided by different codes than those practised today. A time far removed from the permanent deluge of information and demands of the present day.

Thus, conversing with Julien-François Zbinden was like piercing the veil of time and entering a lost dimension. His words were never nostalgic or distanced; on the contrary, the aviator he had been (he passed his pilot licence in his fifties) was always eager for new discoveries and experiences. His exemplary curiosity fascinated everyone he met. During his long and brilliant career at Radio Suisse Romande, he introduced his audience to every musical genre, rejecting compartmentalisation in every form.

His open-mindedness, capacity for dialogue and bridge building enabled him to succeed with brio in his presidential roles (apart from SUISA, he also presided the Swiss Association of Musicians from 1973 to 1979). Tributes are pouring in today, and quite rightly so. His presence, his care and attention, and his stimulating vivacity will be sorely missed in the Swiss music landscape.

Julien-François, our honorary member, will be with us for many years to come, alive in the memory of the rare quality of the exchanges he knew how to cultivate.

Xavier Dayer

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  1. greg says:

    henry hubert accordeoniste et moi meme greg lewis pianiste rendont hommage a monsieur Zbinden en faisant aujourd hui notre adhesion a la suisa sincere amitiés a sa famille

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On 8 March 2021, Swiss composer and jazz pianist Julien-François Zbinden passed away. He was 103 years’ old. Julien-François Zbinden was President of SUISA from 1987 to 1991. Obituary by Xavier Dayer, President of SUISA

Obituary Julien-François Zbinden: an extra-ordinary force of personality

Julien-François Zbinden in a photo from 2000. (Photo: Jean-Pierre Mathez)

It is with great sadness that we received the news that Julien-François Zbinden had passed away. A highly esteemed honorary member and former president of SUISA (from 1987 to 1991) has left us at the age of 103. We shall always remember the sparkle in his eyes. The memory, still fresh, of his one hundredth birthday celebrated with a small circle of very close friends in the heights of Lausanne is still very much alive. What energy, what extra-ordinary force of personality. On that occasion, he stood up...read more

Willy Viteka, the successful music publisher and music producer has passed away

Willy Viteka, an entrepreneur who made a significant contribution to the Swiss music industry as a classical producer-music publisher, passed away on 19 May 2020. Obituary by guest author Stephan F. Peterer

Willy Viteka, the successful music publisher and music producer has passed away

Willy Viteka was a long-standing member of SUISA both as an author and as a publisher. (Photo: zVg)

Born in Madrid on 6 November 1949, he discovered a great enthusiasm for the various arts at an early age and studied art, literature and music with determination. He built up his extensive knowledge and network in the music industry by working in important locations of the western music scene and thus was able to gain extensive experience. In particular, he used part of his “journeyman years” in the 1970s, which were particularly important for the music scene, as a studio musician, producer, author and editor in London, which had a special influence on him.

Producer, publisher and entrepreneur

After his years of travelling, he settled in Switzerland in 1976, together with his beloved wife Olivia, from where the committed couple built up and ran their company, Viteka Musik AG, which included both their own labels and musichouses. But Willy also remained connected to his original home country. In particular, he carried out his production activities in his favourite place, Mallorca, and built a second home together with Olivia. It is there they were always to be found in the music studio.

Within the scope of his entrepreneurial activities, he specialized, in addition to his own music production, in the classical activity of a sub-publisher in Switzerland and had many important works in his catalogue: among others by Kylie Minogue, Milva, Rick Astley, Bananarama, Donna Summer, Cliff Richard, Aitken & Watermann and many more.

Great commitment to the Swiss music industry

Willy Viteka recognised early on that music publishers and producers not only have to be creative and entrepreneurial, but that they also have to fight for an economically viable environment. Although there were already a large number of associations in the music industry in Switzerland at this time, he was unable to find one as a “production-oriented publisher” and immediately sought like-minded entrepreneurs to found a new association together with them. This is why one might as well call him the creative father of the SVMV, the Swiss Association of Music Publishers, which he presided over for 27 years. In 2019, he was appointed honorary president for his great services. He was also intensively involved in the founding of the ASMP, the “Association of Swiss Music Producers”, which he chaired simultaneously to the SVMV.

However, the work was not done with the establishment of industry associations, as these also required activities to achieve the desired effects. This includes exerting influence in important bodies of the Swiss music industry, in a large number of ad hoc commissions and above all in the legislative authorities. Mutual training and exchange between entrepreneurs and, in particular, the training of young people in the sector also became an important activity, as there were no specialised schools and universities for these professions in Switzerland. For example, Willy organised training events over the years together with members of the board of the association he initiated and with the constant help of his wife Olivia as secretary. These culminated in the two-day music symposium in Fürigen, which became the most important annual professional event in the music industry calendar.

With the revision of the copyright law in the 1980s and the resulting establishment of neighbouring rights, Swissperform was subsequently founded, in which Willy was involved as a delegate from the very beginning. He was also a member of the Expert Committee of Phono Producers for several years. For many years, he has also participated in the copyright discussions of the Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI), as well as in the development of standard contracts for music publishers, sub-publishers and producers.

Died at the age of 70

After being hospitalised due to an accident, Willy Viteka was, on top of that, infected with Covid-19. Although he was still cured of the virus itself, he was so weakened by the disease that he succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 70, which he contracted during convalescence.

We will remember Willy as an extraordinarily good-natured and warm person, who with his approachable manner and great dedication has forged many friendships in the Swiss music industry and beyond.

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Willy Viteka, an entrepreneur who made a significant contribution to the Swiss music industry as a classical producer-music publisher, passed away on 19 May 2020. Obituary by guest author Stephan F. Peterer

Willy Viteka, the successful music publisher and music producer has passed away

Willy Viteka was a long-standing member of SUISA both as an author and as a publisher. (Photo: zVg)

Born in Madrid on 6 November 1949, he discovered a great enthusiasm for the various arts at an early age and studied art, literature and music with determination. He built up his extensive knowledge and network in the music industry by working in important locations of the western music scene and thus was able to gain extensive experience. In particular, he used part of his “journeyman years” in the 1970s, which were particularly important for the music scene, as a studio musician, producer,...read more

Remembering an extraordinary person and gifted musician

The pianist Willy Bischof was an established figure on the Swiss jazz scene and made his mark on the programmes of Radio DRS as music editor and programme director. In December 2019, the long-standing SUISA member died at the age of 74. Obituary by guest author Pietro Schaller

Willy Bischof: Remembering an extraordinary person and gifted musician

Willy Bischof at Studio Mulinetti in Genoa on the occasion of the CD production of “A Pianist In Parisˮ in September 2004. (Photo: Pietro Schaller)

Dear, caro Willy

In 1968, I saw and heard you for the first time – as pianist of a quintet in a dance hall. As guitarist and trombonist, I played in a dancing band, too. I made the decision to “get outˮ in mid-May 1978. Trigger for this was a contact to Radio Bern, which produced a live recording of our band in July 1974 in the Kursaal Bern – Georges Pilloud was the initiator.

At the end of May 1978, I contacted you at Radio Studio Bern, “Do you need an archive staff member?ˮ “No! A producer is urgently needed, come to Bern, details will be discussed later.ˮ The first meeting with you took place in the radio play studio. You at the Steinway Concert Grand piano. “Do you know Cantaloupe Island?ˮ I asked, you played it right away. Perhaps this was the prelude to our long-standing relationship.

Monday, July 3, 1978 was my first day of work at the radio studio in Bern. No sign of Willy. I was on my own, because your workplace was at the Montreux Jazz Festival – together with Ruedi Kaspar. For several years you were the “Radio dream teamˮ in Montreux – unforgotten are your multilingual interviews with world-class musicians. At that time, I did not know that you had made a brilliant coup years earlier by acquiring the broadcasting rights for all live broadcasts on Radio DRS2.

The following 2 months were a crash course in “how Radio DRS worksˮ: Departmental structures, reading and interpreting minutes of meetings, as well as ways of speaking and sensitivities of media workers. Whenever the “regularˮ working hours were exceeded, these extra lessons were moved to the garden of a nearby pub.

Your plan was to manage the programme area of entertainment music at DRS1. Together with Ruedi Kaspar you invented “5 after 4ˮ, the first radio show with pop and rock music. Polo Hofer was a discovery by the two of you, and your presence on this show was the cornerstone of Poloʼs career and of dialect rock.

Your specifications for a balanced DRS1 music programme were easy for me to meet. Like you, I was not afraid of any kind of music: in our opinion, it had to be well played and sound good. There were numerous records of almost every genre, and all the music editors maintained extensive archives of their own. I didnʼt know at that time that you had established a free sampling service through your excellent relationships with the record industry approximately 5 years earlier – a classic win-win situation. Without this coup de main, your ideas of a successful DRS1 radio music programme would have failed – simply because the desired music repertoire would not have been available.

Your appointment as “Chief of Entertainment Music Radio DRS1ˮ occurred in 1978. In the following year, your new place of work was Studio Zurich, Ruedi Kaspar “dislocatedˮ to Studio Basel. The fact that this was the prelude to DRS3 was unknown to me. However, inside the radio it was suspected that a 3rd radio programme could be in the planning phase. In autumn 1982, I followed your call to move to Studio Zurich to build up the “Zurichˮ part of the music editorial department. With the success of Radio 24 (start of broadcasting 28.11.1979), Radio DRS increased the implementation speed.

On 1 November 1983, SRG General Director Leo Schürmann symbolically pressed the start button: DRS3 broadcast for the first time.

The following 5 years were the most successful years of DRS3, despite some major differences of opinion between the three editorial offices in Basel, Bern, and Zurich. As “Head of the Music Departmentˮ, you mastered these difficulties with great expertise, caution and gentle pressure.

In 1988, he moved from DRS3 to DRS2. It is possible that recurring discussions of principle on the subject of “musicˮ as well as overflowing meetings and bureaucracy left their mark. It may also be that your love of jazz and music-making as a member of the DRS3 management team had been neglected. The takeover of the “jazzˮ department was the prelude to the establishment of the CH jazz scene, which became a valuable platform with studio sessions for young talent and lesser known formations. For Radio DRS2, this was an important undertaking, which also established the station as an institution for the promotion of culture.

1991 was the birth year of “Apéroˮ, the radio show on DRS2, which you conceived. On the occasion of an annual studio party in Studio 2 in Zurich, you played a Duke Ellington Medley on the concert grand piano, which made everyone present – radio director Andreas Blum was also present – realise that you were a brilliant pianist.

I have always been a big Hazy Osterwald fan. My idea was to re-produce the jazz repertoire of the Osterwald Sextet with an identical formation consisting of you and former DRS band musicians. Together we discovered more than 70 recordings of Hazyʼs best formation from 1951-1964 in the Zurich radio archive. Jazz of the highest level in excellent recording quality, produced by Radio Beromünster in the studio in Basel with Eddie Brunner as sound engineer – former member and later band leader of the famous Teddy Stauffer Band. With your help, a significant document of Swiss jazz from the years 1951-1964 was produced in 1994, the CD box set “50 Years of Music with a Touch of Swingˮ was a great success.

Our intention to realise a production with the post-produced “Hazy Osterwald Jazz Hitsˮ was not executed after careful consideration: Sound, charm, groove of this epoch were too unique and could not be reproduced … A wise decision and a reference to the great recording technique of Radio Beromünster and the producing of Eddie.

In November of the same year the “Berner Song Daysˮ took place in the “Bierhübeliˮ. Your formation, the Willy Bischof Jazztet with Hazy Osterwald, Willy Schmid, Peter Schmidlin and Stefan Kurmann, founded in 1993, was invited as guest of honour. Radio DRS1 recorded the concert. The subsequent CD “Swiss Airˮ is still available today.

In 1998 you were awarded the long overdue “Prix Waloˮ for the radio show “Apéroˮ.

Willy Bischof warming up in the studio. (Photo: Pietro Schaller)

In 2004, I had the idea to produce a recording with you as a solo pianist. The planned location was Studio Mulinetti in Genoa. Versions of Italian classics such as Roma Nun Faʼ Stupido Stasera or Estaté were up for discussion. No persuasion was needed on my part – you were immediately enthusiastic about the project. We assembled the repertoire together. Victor Eugster from “Activ Recordsˮ financed the project. The production date was the end of September 2004. However, shortly before the recording date you changed your mind: “I would rather record French chansons in my own versions – a CD title is already available – ʻA Pianist In Parisʼˮ … Suitable chansons were quickly evaluated. I travelled to Camogli – 30 km east of Genoa – at that time my second home to prepare the production.

The session was successful – all participants got along very well and you played superbly as always. I remember that this was perhaps one of your lucky musical moments.

Your retirement in 2005 encouraged me to retire a year later as well. In the following years, our meetings became rarer – I learned through the grapevine that your health had become unstable. Our last personal contact was on the occasion of a concert I organised with your trio on 21 January 2011 at the Hotel Palace Lucerne.

What remains is the memory of an extraordinary person and gifted musician. You didnʼt strike me as a superior. You were a friend.

Addio Willy

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The pianist Willy Bischof was an established figure on the Swiss jazz scene and made his mark on the programmes of Radio DRS as music editor and programme director. In December 2019, the long-standing SUISA member died at the age of 74. Obituary by guest author Pietro Schaller

Willy Bischof: Remembering an extraordinary person and gifted musician

Willy Bischof at Studio Mulinetti in Genoa on the occasion of the CD production of “A Pianist In Parisˮ in September 2004. (Photo: Pietro Schaller)

Dear, caro Willy

In 1968, I saw and heard you for the first time – as pianist of a quintet in a dance hall. As guitarist and trombonist, I played in a dancing band, too. I made the decision to “get outˮ in mid-May 1978. Trigger for this was a contact to Radio Bern, which produced a live recording of our...read more

Reto Parolari: The passionate and blazing flame shines no more

On Sunday 15 December 2019, Reto Parolari, composer, conductor, arranger and multi-instrumentalist from Winterthur passed away, completely unexpectedly, aged 67. Reto Parolari had been a Board member of SUISA since 2007. Before then, he had been participating in the Distribution and Works Committee which he had been presiding over from 1997 onwards. Obituary by Xavier Dayer, SUISA President, and Urs Schnell, Director of FONDATION SUISA

Reto Parolari shown in a picture at the SUISA General Meeting in 2014 in Berne. (Photo: Juerg Isler, isler-fotografie.ch)

A few days ago, the very sad news of Reto Parolari’s passing away reached us; SUISA‘s Board is in shock. Until a week ago, Reto had been chairing the “Tariffs and Distribution” Committee and took part in our Board meetings with the immense human generosity which was so characteristic for him. Nobody could have even imagined that he would leave us so suddenly. I remember our intensive and cordial discussions at the Board dinner.

I would like to highlight his valuable input into the SUISA Board with a few lines: As a composer and a musician he contributed with an important view. He was always constructive and an indispensable partner.

We had known each other since 2007 when he joined our Board as Chairman of the Distribution and Works Committee. He is thus an important person in the life of the Board that left us on Sunday – irreplaceable, and we regret his passing very much.

In order to visualise his music and his artistic development, it seems best to let Urs Schnell, Director of our foundation, to say a few words. It was only recently that he held an outstanding laudatio on the occasion of the Culture Award of the city of Winterthur on 3 December. The speech of Urs Schnell, which we are going to reproduce in the following will have a particularly moving dimension to it.

In the name of the SUISA Board I would like to express our deepest condolences to the family of Reto Parolari in this rather sorrowful time.

Xavier Dayer

Laudatio on the occasion of the Culture Award to Reto Parolari in the Winterthur Theatre on 3 December 2019

Dear Reto

For me, tonight, a circle is complete: it was on the stage of this very house that I had my first encounter with you, Reto – that’s going back to 1990 or thereabouts. As a student for a teaching diploma at the then music conservatory here in Winterthur, I had to join in singing at the annual Konsi [conservatory] choir concert. A joint concert with your orchestra was scheduled. The programme read: “Sophisticated entertainment music”

This starting point was, maybe you can try to imagine this, ladies and gentlemen – well, not quite simple. For the music students which had been conditioned towards the sublime classical music, it was initially completely far-fetched having to even deal with such kind of repertoire. The project met with a lot of scepticism. “Entertainment music”…. Possibly even with a ternary swing element…. Excerpts from “My Fair Lady” and such like… Well, the then choir conductor and Konsi director, Fritz Näff, whom I hold in high regard, was facing a real challenge.

But, the closer the concert was, the clearer it became: Entertainment music is not, per se, “light” or “casual” music which you could be casual about. There are some tough musical nuts that need cracking.

At the end of the day it was you, Reto, who managed to make the whole thing take off: Thanks to your enthusiasm, your zeal, your humour – and yes, a natural authority which only artists hold in themselves, when they are well above anything material, a jolt went through all of the students gathered there. Resistance melted away, and people made music together.

Something I had the privilege of taking home with me as a life wisdom from you that evening: In order to really captivate your audience you need respect vis-à-vis your co-musicians, the profound knowledge of what you actually do, a deep reverence for music, but above all your own enthusiasm, a passionate, blazing fire – the feu sacrée.

With this small step back in history, I would like to welcome you to this Culture Award ceremony for Reto Parolari.

It is a huge honour and joy that I may speak to you today. And I thank you, Reto, that you asked for me to do so….

You, the Parolari family, are probably the one family in Winterthur with the most comprehensive Culture Award collection. Your father, the oboist Egon Parolari, had already received the award exactly 30 years ago – which also is a sign of the continuity of the culture policy of Winterthur.

Since you were a kid, you were active in Winterthur. You once said: “I have literally grown up on the stage floor of the town hall. My father took me along to rehearsals and concerts that often.”

At the age of 24, you completed your studies as a qualified musician with the main subject drums, further studies followed in Hanover, Stuttgart and Vienna.

Voilà – and from now on, ladies and gentlemen, it will be difficult, because the biggest challenge, if you wish to approach Reto’s works and their impact, is simply the unbelievable diversity of his creations.

It is not an easy task for the poor person holding the laudatio, to summarise your curriculum, Reto: it is characterised by concurrent and contrary, complementing and parallel events. But and that makes the task a bit simpler for the not quite so poor person holding the laudatio: it is all held together by a fiery passion for music, the feu sacrée – and it is exactly because of the rough edges that it is a curriculum which is logical per se.

You are an artist – but also a shrewd entrepreneur. You are a composer and an arranger, you are author and editor of specialist literature, conductor and instrumentalist.

Multi-instrumentalist: Marimba, continental typewriter, drums, piano and you are even a virtuoso of car horns. Your main instrument, however, is you. Your authenticity, your belief in your mission, your warmth and humour, your stubborness and unconditionality, in other words, your feu sacrée.

It is impossible to talk about you without implying “sophisticated entertainment music”.

But, hold on a minute… what is that?? What distinguishes a Parolari from other musicians, what is, in marketing speak: Your unique selling point?

Let me quote Cédric Dumont, the founder of the Radio Orchestra of Radio Beromünster and the Director of the radio studio Zurich: “The original sin in music happened when people began to distinguish between E and U, between serious and entertainment music…. But even for U you need stamina, craftsmanship and enthusiasm.” Voilà, the feu sacrée.

You are burning for a music genre which clearly has not got an “easy life”. A genre which, if it is even perceived as such, often only attracts a smug smile…

But where does it come from, that representatives from the so-called “serious” category turn up their noses?

The demands are high, probably higher than some others, presumed serious music genres: In order to reach the full effect of entertainment music, the score must be transposed exactly, the music MUST be taken seriously, but – careful: Contradiction here – it always has to be played with a wink.

But – by implication: May I not feel “entertained” by a Beethoven symphony, a Bach concert? And if I was to feel “entertained” after all: does this mean somebody made a mistake??

I leave this for you to ponder…

Your art is closely connected with the history of Swiss radio. Until the seventies, each radio station had its own contractual orchestra, which accompanied the spoken broadcasts live with specially composed repertoire. In order to create the desired mood effects with the listener, music had to be composed in various, colourful and pictorial ways, and be implemented perfectly in terms of the skills applied. What makes me put forward this thesis is: sophisticated entertainment music is film music – a film music which needs to create its own images – and that is musical storytelling at its best.

With the massive distortions of the media landscape at the beginning of the seventies, the marriage of the radio orchestras was over – one ensemble after the other was dissolved – the repertoire was no longer requested, musicians with the highest qualifications were laid off, the music archives were under threat to end up in the waste paper collection….

That is when Reto was at the right place at the right time:

You literally saved the music scores of the radio studio Basel, the Bayerische Rundfunk and later those of the radio orchestra Beromünster from the shredder.

And that is how your biggest achievement, in material terms, is growing more or less in secret, nearly literally beneath our feet….

In a huge air raid bunker in the middle of Winterthur, you have become the guardian of a huge music score collection of more than 110,000 titles.

This biggest music archive in Europe is not just a mausoleum of creative moments, no, you mediate access for numerous international orchestras which use the music actively.

Your merit for a continuation of sound and paper of this musically historic unique legacy, the keeping alive of cultural goods cannot be commended highly enough. I would like to thank the city of Winterthur at this point that it acknowledges this unique commitment and also pays the respect it has deserved to this kind of music with its award.

And of course it is not possible to talk about you without mentioning your own orchestras.

The first orchestra you founded was during your studies at this music conservatory.

The “ORP” was created with a symphonic line-up, which has been exclusively made up of 40 professional musicians since 1990. Such an orchestra – something I have to mention as an aside – is actually an entrepreneurial nonsense. It can never break even – but still: You never had to report it to the bankruptcy office.

You conducted more than 40 orchestras from all over the world, among which there were exotic ones such as the State Hermitage Orchestra St Petersburg (Russia), the Airport Orchestra Zurich (Switzerland) or the Philharmonic Orchestra Pyongyang (North Korea).

You never applied for any of these engagements – you were always contacted by them.

The same applies – for the world of circus: at the tender age of 28, you were offered the conductor’s position at Circus Nock, shortly after the same position at the Circus Knie. For your creative engagement at the Carré Theatre in Amsterdam, the Queen of the Netherlands even awarded you the title “Royal Bandmaster”. And, you also found yourself shoulder to shoulder with aristocrats and other crown-wearing royalty as Head Conductor of Music at the International Circus Festival in Monaco.

It was only at home where there was less glamour for you: with your own international festival of sophisticated entertainment music, you may well have launched a unique music event with international reach – but the public at home did not take quite as much notice of it…

I would also need to mention your work as a composer and arranger, spanning more than 800 works, in more detail, and you also deserve to be honoured as the author of expert articles and several specialist books – but, alas, time flies…

Something is, however, important to me: You are not only standing up for yourself, Reto: as a Board member of the collective management organisation SUISA, or as an active member of the local Rotary Club Winterthur -Mörsburg, you are also committed to the service for people around you.

As mentioned at the outset: a curriculum with rough edges – because all of the facets of your activities, whether as a musician, conductor, orchestra leader, entrepreneur, event organiser, publisher, archivist, composer, they complement, require and need each other and result in the overall picture of someone who creates art and culture. – a logical curriculum, a curriculum that follows through.

It was only recently that I was allowed to perform once more under your direction: if only in one musical piece, but this time as a trained flautist. And within seconds, it was there again: that feeling that you can convey so well: the respectful “this will be good, trust me”. Easy going when it comes to your appearance, but serious when it comes to the matter at hand. And indeed: You counted the intro, the big band started to swing, my part…. Your feu sacrée was blazing and all was superb – and yes all went well!

Merci, Reto, for all of that!!

Urs Schnell

The memorial service will take place on Monday, 30 December 2019, at 3 pm in the Stadtkirche in Winterthur.

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  1. Samuel Zünd says:

    Bitte veranlassen Sie unbedingt die Sicherung Reto Parolaris einzigartiger Notenbibliothek als ein Ganzes der Nachwelt! Sie ist ein einzigartiger Schatz und gehört der Öffentlichkeit für alle Zeiten zugänglich gemacht. Auf dass die von Reto geretteten Werke nicht noch einmal vorm Schreddern bedroht werden!
    Herzlich Samuel Zünd

  2. Markus Niffenegger says:

    Lieber Reto
    Die Nachricht von deinem unerwarteten Abschied vom irdischen Leben hat mich zu tiefst schockiert, denn du warst mir stets ein guter Freund und ein grosses Vorbild. Die Zeit, in welcher ich vor über 40 Jahren als junger Amateurtrompeter in deinem Orchester mitmusizieren durfte, ist mir bis heute als meine beste musikalische Erfahrung in guter Erinnerung geblieben. Mit dir haben wir einen grossen Musiker und überaus edlen Menschen verloren.
    Vielen Dank für alles, ruhe in Frieden!
    Markus

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On Sunday 15 December 2019, Reto Parolari, composer, conductor, arranger and multi-instrumentalist from Winterthur passed away, completely unexpectedly, aged 67. Reto Parolari had been a Board member of SUISA since 2007. Before then, he had been participating in the Distribution and Works Committee which he had been presiding over from 1997 onwards. Obituary by Xavier Dayer, SUISA President, and Urs Schnell, Director of FONDATION SUISA

Reto Parolari shown in a picture at the SUISA General Meeting in 2014 in Berne. (Photo: Juerg Isler, isler-fotografie.ch)

A few days ago, the very sad news of Reto Parolari’s passing away reached us; SUISA‘s Board is in shock. Until a week ago, Reto had been chairing the “Tariffs and Distribution” Committee and took part in our Board meetings with the immense human generosity which was so characteristic...read more

Where there is no love, everything is in vain

Zurich composer and music journalist Rolf Urs Ringger passed away on 26 June 2019 aged 84. Obituary by guest author Thomas Meyer

Rolf Urs Ringger: Where there is no love, everything is in vain

Rolf Urs Ringger had been a SUISA member since 1960. (Photo: Keystone / Gaëtan Bally)

When he was young, he is said to have wanted to write a novel with the title “The Dandy”: The protagonist takes a taxi to the opera. The book was supposed to be about this short yet extended trip – and with that, probably a little bit about himself. Never mind, whether this was invented or whether the inheritance really might include a fragment of the novel: Rolf Urs Ringger knew, of course, what kind of bait he threw to journalists with such an anecdote. Full of mischief, he envisaged how the image of Ringger, the dandy, emerged, and was happy because that is who he was: the dandy among Swiss composers, genuinely vain, but also sensually playful with this vanity. When Adrian Marthaler visualised his orchestral work “Breaks and Takes” for TV, Ringger himself played a Delius-like, melancholic composer by a swimming pool.

“I love flirting. It does, after all, provide my production with a light and playful moment. And it is really well received by the audience. And I enjoy it.” That’s what he said in a conversation. “The moment of narcissism, now understood without bias, is prominently perceptible with me.” I liked him for this kind of self-irony which was rather natural in his case. He brought his very own and outstanding colour into the Zurich music scene which tended to be modest. He was glamorous, eclectic, urban, even though he always spent his summers on Capri where he created a few sensual sound patterns. The composer was heavily involved in creating this image.

Sound and word artist

Ringger was also a native of Zurich. Born in Zurich on 06 April 1935, he grew up here, lived and worked here, a word and sound artist. He attended the seminar in Küsnacht, he completed a thesis on Weberns piano pieces at the musicologists’ seminar Zurich with Kurt von Fischer. As rur. (his initials used for writing as a journalist for the NZZ), he belonged to the critics’ staff of the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung”, delivered trenchant and elegant, sometimes deliberately careless texts, but also wrote early portraits on those composers who only got attention to a great extent such as Edgard Varèse or Charles Ives, Erik Satie and Othmar Schoeck. Apart from great characters, there are also mavericks, and he happily remembered the nostalgics among whom he probably counted himself. In publications such as the essay collection “Von Debussy bis Henze”, he bundled these portraits.

Ringger had lessons in composition very early on, privately with Hermann Haller. At Darmstadt summer schools in 1956, he studied under Theodor W. Adorno and Ernst Krenek, shortly after for half a year with Hans Werner Henze in Rome. Those were aesthetic antipodes since Henze had already withdrawn from the avant-garde scene by then. Even though Ringger later on mentioned with a smug expectant smile that he got on better with Adorno than with Henze, he still followed his abandon of the strictly serial techniques to an orientation towards a sensual sound language. This can already be heard from the sound of his titles: “… Vagheggi il mar e l’arenoso lido…” for orchestra (1978), “Souvenirs de Capri” for soprano, bugle and string sextet (1976–77), “Ode ans Südlicht” for choir and orchestra (1981) or “Addio!” for strings and tubular bells. He also created three ballet music works, namely “Der Narziss” (1980), “Ikarus” (1991), and “Ippòlito” (1995). What he obviously never tried was to approach the great dramatico-musical forms.

Sensual sound language

Ringger was one of the first who used neo-tonal elements in the 70ies, as a Henze follower, trending rather early. I dedicated a caustic comment to this in a review back then. Of course, despite all of his self-irony, he reacted relatively offended. And yet, a few years later, he reverted to the issue with pleasure and proudly announced that I had called him the first neo-tonal in this country back then. The change towards postmodernism had proved him right.

Thus, his music often played with quotes (from Debussy, for example), indulged in impressionistic colours or in highly romantic gestures, but still remained transparent and light all the while. I did, however, treasure him most as an urban flâneur. Not where he put newspaper clippings together in a childish manner to create a collage (“Chari-Vari-Etudes”, “Vermischtes”) for chamber speaking choir but in his musical promenades. In the “Manhattan Song Book” (2002) for soprano, three speaking voices and five instruments, he is out and about in New York, observes, takes notes, comments in eleven songs, cheeky, carefree, again in a coquettish self-mirroring. When a lady, called as a not so friendly “crazy witch”, asks him whether he was the “famous composer”, he only answers briefly: “No, it’s my cousin.”

Now he passed away. “Lights!” is written at the top of his obituary, below the sentences: “He loved the sun of the Mediterranean, music and youth. He thanks all of those who have done well unto him in his life and supported his music.” Capri is going to miss him. His “Notiziario caprese” (2004) ends with the words “(very calm, nearly without pathos) Se non c’è Amore, tutto è sprecato. (very matter-of-fact) Where there is no love, everything is in vain. Inscription on a grave in Capri; about 2020.”

The obituary by Thomas Meyer was first published in the “Schweizer Musikzeitung” no. 9/10 of September/October 2019.

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Zurich composer and music journalist Rolf Urs Ringger passed away on 26 June 2019 aged 84. Obituary by guest author Thomas Meyer

Rolf Urs Ringger: Where there is no love, everything is in vain

Rolf Urs Ringger had been a SUISA member since 1960. (Photo: Keystone / Gaëtan Bally)

When he was young, he is said to have wanted to write a novel with the title “The Dandy”: The protagonist takes a taxi to the opera. The book was supposed to be about this short yet extended trip – and with that, probably a little bit about himself. Never mind, whether this was invented or whether the inheritance really might include a fragment of the novel: Rolf Urs Ringger knew, of course, what kind of bait he threw to journalists with such an anecdote. Full of mischief, he envisaged how the image of Ringger, the...read more

A tribute to Claudio Taddei

On 9 August this year, singer-songwriter and painter Claudio Taddei passed away at the age of 52. Obituary by Rossana Taddei and Sara Ravarelli

A tribute to Claudio Taddei

Rossana and Claudio Taddei. (Photo: Alejandro Persichetti)

Born in Uruguay to parents from Ticino, Claudio grew up between Switzerland and South America, where he embarked on a glittering musical career that took him to the top of the South American charts. In 2002, at the height of his fame in Uruguay, Claudio was struck down by a serious illness that led him to return to Switzerland. Here he alternated periods of intense medical treatment with a busy schedule of concerts and artistic performances, quickly becoming a popular figure in Ticino – a renowned musician and celebratedpainter.

Claudio Taddei began indulging his passion for music in childhood, together with his sister Rossana, who has also enjoyed a successful musical career in Uruguay. A SUISA member for some years now, Rossana wanted to share with us her loving and personal memory of Claudio, as a brother and artist. (Sara Ravarelli)

Dear brother, friend and companion on a journey full of adventures and dreams

A sun, a giant star full of light.
You always loved to trace the path of the sun and to the sun you now return.
There is no farewell because you live on in all your songs, in every brush stroke, in your colours, in our hearts and minds.
Dear brother, friend and companion on a journey full of adventures and dreams, we shared an eternal bond, as if two twins.
Your bright, cheerful, curious eyes reflect the broad smile of your guiding heart. You sang and told your story, your joy, your sadness, your goodness.
Let your true hand now guide the way for all of us who loved you and want to start walking again, to move forward in accepting the pain and void of your absence.
I will miss you, we will miss you. I will fill the hole by singing and telling our story, our being brother and sister.
Creativity always saves us and has always saved us.
Creativity always unites us and has always united us.
It was the strongest thread in our bond and will always be what unites us.
Every image in my memory starts and ends with a heartfelt smile.

Intensely calm
Worryingly intense
Silently noisy
Untidily tidy
Passionately quiet
Quietly passionate
Stubbornly shy
Shyly exuberant
I know you inside out, brother, yet I do not know the depth and infiniteness that you were and continue to be.

Thank you for being a mentor. Life is a gift: you must know how to lead it for the gift to become light.

“Te toca la pena, también la alegría y el amor. No dejes que nada espere, la vida hace siempre lo que quiere, más vale echarle picante y hacer que las cosas se vivan bien pa’delante.”

Rossana Taddei

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On 9 August this year, singer-songwriter and painter Claudio Taddei passed away at the age of 52. Obituary by Rossana Taddei and Sara Ravarelli

A tribute to Claudio Taddei

Rossana and Claudio Taddei. (Photo: Alejandro Persichetti)

Born in Uruguay to parents from Ticino, Claudio grew up between Switzerland and South America, where he embarked on a glittering musical career that took him to the top of the South American charts. In 2002, at the height of his fame in Uruguay, Claudio was struck down by a serious illness that led him to return to Switzerland. Here he alternated periods of intense medical treatment with a busy schedule of concerts and artistic performances, quickly becoming a popular figure in Ticino – a renowned musician and celebratedpainter.

Claudio Taddei began indulging his passion for music in childhood, together with his sister...read more

Michel Legrand, a life for music

Michel Legrand died on January 26th 2019. He was 86. The composer leaves behind a prestigious career spanning 60 years that earned him a worldwide reputation. The maestro with a fiery temperament conducted his life by the baton. Obituary by Bertrand Liechti, member of the Board of SUISA

Michel Legrand, a life for music

Michel Legrand, here on 17 May 2017, before the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival, had been a member of SUISA since 1998. (Photo: Regis Duvignau / Reuters)

Michel Legrand was born in 1932, in Menilmontant, a suburb of Paris, into a family of musicians: his father, Raymond Legrand, was a composer and conductor, his uncle was the conductor Jacques Hélian (Der Mikaëlian). He studied the piano, the trumpet and composition at the Conservatoire de Paris, in the class of Nadia Boulanger. He developed a passion for jazz and even recorded an album in New York (1958), alongside jazz greats like Chet Baker, Miles Davis and John Coltrane. At the time, the New Wave was definitively embarking upon its revival of French cinema. Michel Legrand worked with Jean Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Jean Paul Rappeneau …

In the 1960s, he met Jacques Demy, whom he was to collaborate with on 9 films, including “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg” (1964), which won the Palme d’or at Cannes, “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort” (1967) and “Peau d’Âne” in 1970. History will recall that the script, lyrics and score of the “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg” and of “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort” were conceived in the Valais resort of Verbier.

“A musical giant, a genius of a composer, jazzman and conductor!”

Michel Legrand then moved to Hollywood where he won three Oscars for the score of Norman Jewison’s “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1969) with the hit “The Windmills of Your Mind”. He repeated this feat in 1972 for Robert Mulligan’s “Summer of ‘42”, and in 1984 for Barbra Streisand’s “Yentl”. At the same time, he recorded with international stars such as Frank Sinatra, Charles Aznavour, Ella Fitzgerald, Claude Nougaro, and more recently, Nathalie Dessay.

In March 2018, I had the privilege of overseeing his composition for Orson Wells’ unpublished last film, “The Other Side of the Wind”, for Netflix. Anecdotally, in a notebook accompanying this unfinished drama, the heirs of the great American filmmaker discovered an inscription with instructions from beyond the grave: “Call Michel Legrand!”

After 20 years of collaboration with Michel Legrand, I will remember him as a musical giant – a genius of a composer, jazzman and conductor.

www.michellegrandofficial.com

Michel Legrand joined SUISA as a member in 1998. In 2002, at the Locarno Film Festival, the French composer was honoured for his life’s work by FONDATION SUISA, SUISA’s foundation for the promotion of music.
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Michel Legrand died on January 26th 2019. He was 86. The composer leaves behind a prestigious career spanning 60 years that earned him a worldwide reputation. The maestro with a fiery temperament conducted his life by the baton. Obituary by Bertrand Liechti, member of the Board of SUISA

Michel Legrand, a life for music

Michel Legrand, here on 17 May 2017, before the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival, had been a member of SUISA since 1998. (Photo: Regis Duvignau / Reuters)

Michel Legrand was born in 1932, in Menilmontant, a suburb of Paris, into a family of musicians: his father, Raymond Legrand, was a composer and conductor, his uncle was the conductor Jacques Hélian (Der Mikaëlian). He studied the piano, the trumpet and composition at the Conservatoire de Paris, in the class of Nadia Boulanger. He developed...read more

Charles Aznavour’s songs are part of our collective identity

Charles Aznavour joined SUISA in 1976 and was one of our best-known members. The countless tributes on TV, radio and in the press around the world since his death are a reminder, if one was necessary, of the scale of his legend. They can also teach us a few important lessons. Obituary by Xavier Dayer, President of SUISA

Charles Aznavour’s songs are part of our collective identity

Charles Aznavour, pictured at the Teatro Regio di Parma on 30 October 2009, wrote lyrics and music for innumerable chansons over the course of his career. (Photo: Fabio Diena / Shutterstock)

As a singer and performer, Charles Aznavour was a genius, yet he was also an extraordinary composer and lyricist and he highlighted this essential aspect of his activities time and time again.

In the public archives of French authors’ rights society SACEM, we can find the entrance examination he took to join the society as an author in 1947. Yes, it’s true: at that time all new members had to pass an entrance exam! It is particularly moving to read the lyrics to a song called “Si je voulais”, corrected by SACEM in red ink.

It’s a powerful reminder of the steps taken by Charles Aznavour, son of Armenian immigrants, on his path from obscurity to global fame. One cannot help but see this journey as a hymn to the openness of our modern societies to the constant acceptance and awareness that cultures are enriched by these ties. At this very moment, a “Charles Aznavour” of tomorrow might be on a boat crossing the Mediterranean.

Today, Aznavour’s gravelly voice and his songs, with their distinctive words and melodies, are a part of who we are, our collective identity. His work is part of our “today” and his career is a message of hope to all creators.

Words are always pale in comparison with the power of musical expression. They cannot convey how deeply grateful we are at SUISA to have handled rights management for Charles Aznavour. This is truly an immense honour and we would like to offer our sincere condolences to his loved ones.

www.aznavourfoundation.org

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Charles Aznavour joined SUISA in 1976 and was one of our best-known members. The countless tributes on TV, radio and in the press around the world since his death are a reminder, if one was necessary, of the scale of his legend. They can also teach us a few important lessons. Obituary by Xavier Dayer, President of SUISA

Charles Aznavour’s songs are part of our collective identity

Charles Aznavour, pictured at the Teatro Regio di Parma on 30 October 2009, wrote lyrics and music for innumerable chansons over the course of his career. (Photo: Fabio Diena / Shutterstock)

As a singer and performer, Charles Aznavour was a genius, yet he was also an extraordinary composer and lyricist and he highlighted this essential aspect of his activities time and time again.

In the public archives of French authors’ rights society SACEM, we can find...read more