Partner George Cree, buried together
Leonard Raver (January 8, 1927 - February 3, 1992) was the organist of the New York Philharmonic as well as a frequent recitalist and a champion of contemporary music.
In the 1970's and 80's, Raver commissioned or gave the premieres of dozens of important new works for the organ, among them Ned Rorem's "Quaker Reader" and "Organbook," Daniel Pinkham's Organ Concerto, Vincent Persichetti's "Auden Variations," William Albright's "King of Instruments," Gardner Read's "Phantasmagoria" and "Galactic Novae" and David Diamond's Symphony for Organ.
Raver was born in Wenatchee, Wash., on Jan. 8, 1927, and grew up in Tacoma. He said in interviews that his earliest musical memories were of hearing the organ played in church and that he wanted to be an organist from the time he was 6 years old. His first teacher insisted that he study the piano first, however, and it wasn't until he was 16 that he was allowed to switch to the organ. Six months after he changed instruments, he took his first church job. 'Responsibility to the Future'
Although Raver occasionally played Baroque music in his recitals and was considered a gifted interpreter of it, his real love was contemporary music.
He built a large repertory of modern American works in a variety of styles and worked hard to win audiences for them. One of his approaches was a series of what he called Organizm concerts, which featured music for organ, electronic sounds and percussion. He also mixed new works with Baroque and Romantic scores to show the continuity of the organ repertory.
He began performing regularly with the New York Philharmonic in the mid-1970's and joined its roster in 1977. He also taught at colleges and conservatories, including the Juilliard School, Yale University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Hartford.
He died on February 3, 1992, at his home in Bayside, Queens. He was 65 years old. He died of AIDS, said George Cree, his companion, who survived him one month, dying on March 7. They are buried together at Beaver Cemetery and Mausoleum, with Cree's parents.
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