Musician and Dreamer
As an internationally known conductor and writer, he leaves an extraordinary legacy of recordings, books, and articles.
" Blum is master of every gradation of the tonal palette. He is dedicated to every angle of his art."
-Christian Science Monitor
Blum studied composition and conducting at the Juilliard School of Music. He founded the Young Artists Chamber Orchestra in Los Angeles, recorded with the English Chamber Orchestra, and guest conducted in Europe, America, and Israel from 1959-1961. During this period, a friendship developed with Pablo Casals that was to last nearly two decades.
In 1961, Blum founded The Esterhazy Orchestra in New York, with Casals acting as Honorary President. Dedicated to the music of Haydn the orchestra gave ground-breaking tours throughout the U.S. and Canada. But it is the recordings of Haydn symphonies which permanently preserve the rare collaboration between Blum and his outstanding musicians.
"The orchestra seems to share with the conductor an elation and joy in making music." -Musical America
Taking up residence in Switzerland in 1969, on the recommendation of Ernest Ansermet, Blum was appointed music director and conductor of the Lausanne and Geneva Symphony Orchestras and guest conducted extensively throughout Europe.
In the 1970s, and over the next two decades, Blum became a prolific and esteemed writer on music and musicians. His books, which have been translated into many languages, include: Casals and the Art of Interpretation, Paul Tortelier, The Art of Quartet Playing, and Quintet. Blum frequently contributed articles to The New York Times, The New Yorker, the BBC Music Magazine, and The Strad.
"As a writer, he revealed the inner working approaches of some of the greatest performers of our time."
-The London Times, 1998
In 1988, Blum returned to the U.S., settling in Seattle, where he continued his writing and taught as affiliate professor in the School of Music at the University of Washington.
Music played a powerful role in his ability to cope with cancer, which was diagnosed in 1989. In his last article for the BBC Music Magazine, entitled The Healing Power of Music, he described the comfort and strength derived from a lifetime's devotion to music:
"It is an amazing fact that at a time of dire crisis, people unexpectedly find themselves supported by a power that makes it possible for them to cope...Healing isn't confined to getting well physically."
Blum's obituary in The London Times, May 1998, notes: "Although he was a prolific writer, he could only ever write about those artists with whom he felt a passionate empathy, and whose genius became woven into the fabric of his own life. Those musicians with whom he felt such an affinity - who included Josef Gingold, Richard Goode, Yo-Yo Ma, Birgit Nilsson, Richard Stoltzman, Jeffrey Tate, and Dawn Upshaw - trusted him totally, and most became close friends. His warm, meticulously researched profiles brought them alive for both the specialist and general reader. Posthumously, his profiles of Ma, Tate, Gingold, Goode, and Nilsson were collected in the book Quintet, with a foreword by Arnold Steinhardt and book jacket endorsements from Isaac Stern and Donald Mitchell."
"David Blum writes with incomparable subtlety, knowledge, and intuition, a mode of intimate investigation which fascinatingly matches the gifts of the very musicians who are his topic." -Donald Mitchell, the book jacket of Quintet
Music: Telemann, Concerto in D Major Telemann, 1st movement
Performed by the Esterhazy Orchestra, David Blum, Conductor