Hagy recalls friends who have shaped his career
By David Hagy
For The Salisbury Post
In 1969, an orchestra of Indianapolis public school students began rehearsal with a new conductor. The piece was by Rossini, the conductor was Thomas Briccetti, and a 10-grade first violinist in the middle of the section was David Hagy (me), who would eventually become the music director of the Salisbury Symphony.The Rossini, which begins with quiet strings slowly and stealthily plucking, began with a strange rattling sound. Briccetti looked back in the percussion section. A freshman was playing a maraca creating a Latin sound to the otherwise Italian music. A confused Briccetti went back to find out why.
The student had misread “marc.” (Italian for marcato meaning “marked”) to mean maraca. With a smile the rehearsal went on ó without the maraca.During the next four years, I would learn innumerable facts, history, and techniques of good music-making. We played a movement from a work by Hindemith that piqued my curiosity about modern sounds. (The Hindemith is featured on the coming SSO concert.)
I began to study composition with Briccetti at his home, becoming friends with his wife and two children. I did garden work and library work in exchange for lessons. There I met a 20-something Russell Peck who had written a piece Tom was conducting. (Russell Peck’s Concerto for Timpani is on the concert as well.)
When Briccetti left Indianapolis for the music directorship of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, I decided to go to a regional campus of Indiana University in Fort Wayne so I could continue studying with him. During my time in Fort Wayne, Briccetti occasionally hired me to conduct with the Philharmonic.
When Briccetti became music director of the Omaha Symphony, he suggested I be hired as the conductor of the Omaha Area Youth Orchestra. I asked Tom to play harpsichord with the Youth Symphony on a Vivaldi string concerto (also on the coming concert).
For four years, we worked in the same community again until I left for doctoral studies at Yale.
As I worked with my second conducting teacher, Otto-Werner Mueller, Tom Briccetti left the Omaha Symphony and moved to Perugia, Italy. During his time in Perugia, he wrote a work titled “Illusions” with movements titled Joy, Love, Time and Truth. Soon a score to “Time” arrived in Salisbury with the inscription dedicating the movement to me. (Illusions is on the coming concert as well.)
I went to visit Tom in the summer of 1998. He lived in a house that had been completed in the 13th century. When he renovated the house he asked to open a window that had been closed. The historic preservation committee told him “No!”
He wrote again explaining he would be returning the house to its original design, and again was told “No!” Finally when the house was entirely covered (so none of the original roof dust would be lost!) he secretly opened the window and wrote a letter to the committee asking permission to close a window. Again came the response “No!” which he kept for proof when the building was uncovered and the window was open! That was Tom!
Tom taught me half of my musical abilities and gave me the first insight into how to make music alive, passionate and important. Along the way, he became not only a mentor but a great friend. In 1999, he died of a heart attack at the young age of 63. Russell Peck and I lost a great friend and the world lost not only a great musician but a person filled with a love of life.
Our coming concert not only honors the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation for their donation of our new timpani, but also Thomas Briccetti ó composer, conductor and friend.