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JENNIFER PAULL pays tribute to
Matthew Peaceman


Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace. -- Dwight D Eisenhower, US general and 34th president (1890-1969)

Matthew Peaceman, scholar, historian, researcher, teacher, oboist, conductor, composer and pioneer has left this world far poorer, musically, for his untimely departure from it on 3 September 2008.

Matthew Peaceman (1956-2008)
Matthew Peaceman (1956-2008)

Listen -- Benjamin Britten: Pan (Six Metamorphoses after Ovid)
(Single Voice track 1, 0:00-1:34) © 2003 Matthew Peaceman

The force of modern medicine has not yet been able to conquer the emergency of the cruel cancer that killed him and against which he fought with the most valiant courage. He leaves a wife (Heike) and two children (Hannah and Joshua) and a profession of music deprived of the sparkle and wisdom he shared so generously.

His website ( is a testimony to his achievements: books written, ensembles conducted, concert tours performed and recordings made. There are many sound illustrations of his exceptional talent. He was so special because he performed both contemporary music, with modern instruments, and ancient music with historical instruments. I was particularly partial to his mixing of the two genres -- contemporary music played on Baroque oboe with microphone distortion and colouring.

Listen -- José Jesus de Azevedo Souza: Sililoquy IIb
(Single Voice track 14, 0:00-1:15) © 2003 Matthew Peaceman

I reviewed one of his CDs -- Single Voice -- A Metaphor -- for this magazine exactly five years ago.

Single Voice: A Metaphor - works for solo oboe - Matthew Peaceman, modern and baroque oboe

In those pages and on his web site there is mention of and praise for his brilliant achievements. In this tribute I wish to pay my respects to the man who was my friend.

His family escaped Nazi persecution in Germany by fleeing to the United States. In 1980, Matthew returned. That was his personal justice. He brought festivals of Jewish music to Germany and researched the richness of Jewish Baroque music. He brought it to the land his family had had to abandon. That was his fairness. I personally know of his consideration and cooperation stretching back many years when, as two players of the oboes and lovers of the repertoire of the instruments of the oboe family, we shared many thoughts and ideas. His help was always forthcoming in those moments that can be difficult in any musician's life. He was supportive and giving to the very last.

Listen -- Matthew Peaceman: First movement Abyss/Scorched Earth
(Single Voice track 10, 0:00-2:59) © 2003 Matthew Peaceman

The entire work

Abyss/Scorched Earth
for solo Oboe

(Composed and performed by Matthew Peaceman)

can be heard on his web site. The poem he wrote, which sets his composition, is a very moving self-analysis of his return and how he dealt with it. This composition must be counted amongst the greatest works for solo oboe of the 20th century.

The night before the operation, which he knew was probably hopeless, he sent me an email entitled 'Shit Happens'. He sent his love and, with no self-pity and the force of utter dignity, he said goodbye. That courage and his determination for what is right must surely bring him to the dawn of eternal peace.

One can tell a great musician by what s(he) gives back to Music, the Muse that guided h(er|is) life with the gift of beauty and inspiration. Matthew Peaceman was a great musician.

May your work be kept alive by your students and all those who loved you.

Thank you, Matthew for all of it, but above all, for being you.

'Yisa adonay panav aylecha v'yosam l'cha shalom.'

Listen -- Benjamin Britten: Narcissus (Six Metamorphoses after Ovid)
(Single Voice track 5, 0:00-1:25) © 2003 Matthew Peaceman

Copyright © 4 September 2008 Jennifer I Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland




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