BETTY FREEMAN – LEBRECHT PHOTOGRAPHER

Betty Freeman, Lebrecht  photographer, who died at her home in Los Angeles on January 4, 2009 at the age of 87, was the leading patron of new music in the late 20th and early 21st century.

She was the force behind such modern classics as John Adam’s opera Nixon in China, Steve Reich’s electronic string quartet Different Trains and Harrison Birtwistle’s Antiphonies, and the dedicatee of works by Cage, Feldman, Berio and dozens more. She found Harry Partch living on the strets of Los Angeles and gave him shelter in her garage. In all, more than 80 composers were beneficiaries of her support, in over 400 works.

Betty was also a close friend of the artists David Hockney and R B Kitaj and a gifted photographer in her own right. Her portraits of modern composers, taken with the privilege of close and prolonged collaboration, are exclusively represented by Lebrecht Music and Arts Photo Library. An accomplished pianist, Betty established a musical salon in Los Angeles in the 1980s. She had no nostalgia for 19th century romantics and supported without prejudice both streams of post-modernism – both the minimalist and atonal tendencies. Few people could claim to be a close friend of both Philip Glass and Pierre Boulez. Among other composers she commissioned are George Benjamin, Markus Stenz, Thomas Ades, Hanspeter Kyburz, Harry Partch, Anders Hillborg, Philippe Boesmans, Conlon Nancarrow, Lou Harrison, Helmut Lachenmann, George Crumb, Jorg Widmann, Matthias Pintscher, Friedrich Cerha, Olga Neuwirth, Luciano Berio, Morton Feldman, Gyorgy Kurtag and LaMonte Young.

Her friendship with Lebrecht Music and Arts dates almost from its foundation in the early 1990s. The knowledge that her work was professionally and internationally represented encouraged Betty to continue making photographs right up to her final illness. She was a kind and extraordinarily considerate friend who put the interests of art above personal comfort and convenience. She was also a funny, witty, strong-minded woman who will be terribly missed by all who knew her the world over.

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