Music world sadly notes passing of Ilana Mysior
SAN DIEGO–Ilana Mysior was a musical force in our community. The life of this Israeli-born pianist, who died last March 17 from Marfan’s Syndrome, was celebrated in an evening of music and memories at the First Unitarian Universalist Church on May 22.
Her last public performance as piano soloist with the New City Sinfonia under Dan Ratelle took place in that Church. A video was shown of Ilana in that performance of the 3rd movement of Beethoven’s Concerto No 1. She displayed the confidence and verve of a seasoned soloist in her prime. Only her labored standing to acknowledge the ovation hinted at her physical difficulties. This concert took place June 1, 2007.
Other examples of Ilana’s artistry included recorded selections by the Gennaro Trio with Ronald Godman, violin and Mary Lindbloom, cello, and Ilana’s 1970 performance of Mendelssohn’s Rondo Capriccioso, the performance which first kindled Bill de Malignon’s love for this brilliant lady.
During the celebration of her life, live music was performed by singers and pianists with whom Ilana had worked. Former student James Frimmer played Debussy’s Claire de Lune, Soprano Mary Lou Rector , accompanied by pianist Suzanne Shick, sang Traum der Eignen Tage by Robert Furstenthal, the Artemis Duet rendered a tango by Piazzolla, and the third movement from the Quartet in A minor, Rosemunde by Schubert was performed by Ilana’s husband Bill de Mallignon on viola, and Ilana’s friends Diana Barliant, violin, Marilyn Green, violin and Evelyn Kooperman, cello.
Teresa Fischlowitz told of her lifelong friendship with Ilana, a friendship which began at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles. Both Teresa and Ilana’s families were deeply affected by the Holocaust and that drew the girls together. They were also both interested in the Arts.
Ilana’s family moved to New York when Ilana was a baby. When she was 12, the Mysiors relocated to Los Angeles because of their daughter’s health. There, she excelled in her musical abilities, winning the Young Musicians Foundation Competition in 1950, the Coleman Chamber Music Competition, graduating from high school at 15 and attending first Los Angeles City College, then UCLA, where she worked with Jan Popper, famed opera director and Roger Wagner, well-known choral director, earning her BA degree. For graduate work, she entered USC, receiving a Masters Degree in accompanying at age 21. Summers, she spent at music festivals including the Music Academy of the West and the Aspen Music Festival.
After graduating USC, Ilana returned to Israel where she founded and directed the accompanying department of the Tel Aviv Conservatory. She also served as accompanist and vocal coach with the America-Israel Cultural Foundation concerts and gave recitals throughout Israel. However, homesickness for California brought her back to Los Angeles.
In the summer after her return, cellist Edgar Lustgarten invited her to accompany master classes he was to give at Sherwood Hall in La Jolla. Bud Emile, concertmaster of the San Diego Symphony heard her and urged her to remain in San Diego. She auditioned as coach and accompanist for the newly formed San Diego Opera Company under Walter Herbert. Herbert offered her the job.
In 1966, she became part of the music faculty of the University of San Diego, a position she held until her retirement in 1991. During those years, she was in a number of chamber music ensembles including the Gennaro Trio, which did broadcasts, recordings, and tours of the Western United States, Canada and Mexico. In 1999, the Reader voted the trio “Best Classical Music Group of San Diego.” Her students included Gustavo Romero, the San Diego-born virtuoso.
The Jewish Community Center Music Committee selected Ilana Mysior as their annual banquet honoree in 1986. As part of the evening’s program, there was a slide show of her life. The script concluded, “The name Ilana derives from the Hebrew word for tree, Ilan. And indeed, Ilana grew from a heritage rooted in tradition, talent and training. She branched out into many areas of music performance and music teaching and she excelled in every branch. Ilana Mysior, we honor you in appreciation for all you contributed to enrich the cultural life of San Diego and the world.”
Wingard, a retired San Diego Symphony violinist, is a freelance writer in San Diego