March 20, 1926 – February 28, 2021.
Pianist and composer Richard Faith passed away at his home in Savoy, Illinois, on Sunday, February 28, 2021 just shy of his 95th birthday. He was well known to the NATS community as a prolific song composer but also known for his many chamber, choral, operatic, orchestral, organ, and piano works.
Faith began his career as a concert pianist, performing with the Chicago Symphony and was awarded a Fulbright to study composition in Rome and eventually veered toward a college teaching career. As professor of piano, Faith spent much of his life at the University of Arizona-Tucson where he created most of his music and where all of his manuscripts and documents will be archived.
Many of us have sung or taught Faith’s songs from the Leyerle volumes, which came to fruition from the dissertation project of Dr. William Lavonis. I was so lucky to meet Richard through Bill. I fell in love with his beautiful melodies, his touching attention to text, and thorough understanding of the human voice. He composed and dedicated three songs on poems of Christina Rossetti for me and my pianist, Gary Arvin. I continue to sing these songs today and have assigned his music to many singers. There are a number of recordings of Richard’s vocal and instrumental works on Spotify and YouTube, including our album, “Remember Me, Songs by Richard Faith” with Richard at the piano. A detailed biography and exhaustive repertoire list can be found on Wikipedia.
Two weeks prior to his passing, Richard was still composing and playing the piano for his friends and caregivers at his retirement community. His witty personality, gentle smile and agile playing lived with him to the very end of his life.
Memorial contributed by Julie Simson and William Lavonis.
For more, NATS members can read "The Songs of Richard Faith" by William J. Lavonis in the 1994 Sep/Oct (volume: 51 issue: 1 start page: 13) issue of Journal of Singing.