by Daniel Hathaway
On Sunday, January 25, the Cleveland Museum of Art will present organist Karel Paukert, former and long-time curator of musical arts at the museum, in a special recital in Gartner Auditorium. To mark his 80th birthday Paukert will revisit a work that he has played “at least annually” for decades, Olivier Messiaen’s La Nativité du Seigneur (“The Birth of Christ”).
In December of 2008, shortly after the launch of ClevelandClassical.com, we interviewed Karel Paukert about his forthcoming January performance of the Messiaen work at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights. That performance observed the centenary of the famous French composer’s birth. Paukert’s reflections on La Nativité and on his own career, reprinted below, remain highly relevant six years later.
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Born in Prague, Karel Paukert came to the US by way of Reykjavík and Belgium. He taught and played organ in St. Louis and Evanston, IL before becoming a US citizen in 1972 and curator of musical arts at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1974. During his thirty years in that post he played more than 800 organ recitals, administered two highly respected concert series, founded the Aki Festival of new music and arranged for the personal appearance of Olivier Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod in Cleveland in 1978. [Read more…]