Sunday, November 15, 2009

Marylou Speaker Churchill

I only heard yesterday that Marylou Speaker Churchill, a great teacher and long time principal 2nd violinist of the BSO, passed away late Tuesday evening. She was only 64 and I find it heartbreaking to know that she's no longer around. One of the great benefits of being an accompanist is getting to work with such a wide range of teachers. I didn't accompany for Mrs. Churchill's studio all that often and not at all for the past ten years, but she is unquestionably the most perfect teacher I've ever encountered, absolutely committed to the highest levels of musicianship, but also generous and loving to a degree that can't easily be described. Actually, read through some of the tributes to her on Facebook and you'll get some glimmer of what made her so special.

From a selfish perspective, I had always hoped that some day my daughter might get to study with Marylou, not just because one couldn't hope for a better teacher, but because I always so enjoyed being around her. That radiant smile! I didn't get as many chances to hear her play as I wish, but I remember vividly once playing through the final movement of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time with her. She just wanted to run it with piano in advance of an out-of-town performance to come, but it was a great moment for me. Titled "Praise to the Immortality of Jesus," it is some of the most divinely transcendent music imaginable; perhaps she's playing it now. I know that she provided countless great moments for so many other students and musicians. My thoughts and prayers go out to her dear husband Mark and their two daughters. Such an amazing life, and such a tremendous loss.


Elaine Fine said...

Thank you for posting this, Michael. I knew Marylou quite well when I was growing up, since she was a colleague of my father's, and a she lived in our neighborhood. I always wished that I could have studied with her (her students loved her so much), but, alas, I didn't play the violin then.

I particularly remember that for her wedding to Mark Churchill, which happened relatively later in her life, she had a complete performance of the Bach B-minor Mass played by members of the Boston Symphony.

sarah marie said...

Thanks for the heads-up about this post. I had gotten behind in reading blogs lately, unfortunately. I've edited my post to include a link to yours, since we both mention the Messiaen.

I had always sort of hoped I'd study with her more long-term someday... I think it would have been really life-changing. She was quite a person.