Michael Jaffee, Who Co-Founded Early-Music Group, Dies at 81
Michael Jaffee, who along with his spouse, Kay Jaffee, based the Waverly Consort, which specialised in performing music from medieval and Renaissance occasions and helped gasoline a surge of curiosity in early music during the last half century, died on June 15 in Patterson, N.Y. He was 81.
His household mentioned he died after a fall whereas working outdoors on his property, one thing he beloved doing.
Mr. Jaffee was a graduate pupil at New York University in 1959 when he and a fellow pupil, Kay Cross, taking a category from the musicologist Gustave Reese, turned intrigued by early choral and instrumental music. Professor Reese requested them and another college students if they might strive recording repertoire so the entire class might hear it, and the seeds for the Waverly Consort have been planted.
The group, which diversified in quantity relying on the kind of live performance, started performing in and round New York within the early 1960s, with the Jaffees, who married in 1961, the driving pressure, Michael taking part in lute and guitar, Kay on recorder and different devices.
Reviewing an early live performance at Carnegie Hall in April 1966, Allen Hughes wrote in The New York Times, “The performances confirmed how successfully folks with no pretense of virtuosity could make agreeable music come to life and reveal its significance.”
The consort, with Mr. Jaffee directing, would don interval clothes to carry out music from the 10th to the 17th centuries, making for a visible tour of historical past in addition to a musical one.
Mr. Jaffee’s group performed on interval devices and sometimes wore costumes of the time, transporting listeners into the previous.CreditAlix B. Williamson
“A sextet of authentically costumed musicians, singing or taking part in medieval devices, and a troubadour-narrator evoked a courtly pastime in an hourlong efficiency that may solely be described as excellent,” Raymond Ericson wrote in The Times of a 1971 live performance on the Hunter College Playhouse.
Such ensembles have been unusual on the time, and the consort’s success, which included tv appearances in addition to recordings and live shows, inspired a proliferation of teams dedicated to excavating and bringing to life music from earlier than the Baroque interval.
Because a lot early music was not written down, and since efficiency types and expectations have modified over the centuries, devotees spend plenty of time debating authenticity. Mr. Jaffee, although, took a relaxed view of that query.
“Authenticity in and of itself will not be a very powerful factor in my thoughts,” he instructed The Boston Globe in 1982. “To me, what’s vital is speaking on to an viewers. That’s the purpose of all music, from early music to Stravinsky or Philip Glass.”
“Mike and Kay crafted beautiful packages,” Rosamund Morley, a viola da gamba participant who was a member of the consort for years, wrote in a tribute on the web site of Early Music America, an umbrella group Mr. Jaffee helped discovered, “showcasing in solos the actual strengths of every member of the consort, accompanied by fantastically illustrated program booklets.”
She added, “They gave a begin to so many younger singers and instrumentalists who are actually stars within the historic efficiency motion.”
The group retired a number of years in the past.
Michael Jaffee was born on April 21, 1938, in Brooklyn. His father, Leo, was a furrier, and his mom, Eva (Tzizes) Jaffee, was a fur saleswoman.
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Mr. Jaffee instructed The Globe that he was impressed as a boy by watching Arthur Godfrey strum a ukulele on tv. He took classes in that instrument, guitar and lute.
Mr. Jaffee acquired a bachelor’s diploma at N.Y.U. in 1959 and a grasp’s in musicology there in 1961. The consort he and Kay Jaffee shaped quickly grew in reputation and maintained a busy touring schedule with scores of appearances every year.
The Jaffees weren’t afraid to have the group stretch past its early-music basis. In the mid-1990s it carried out a program of American music from the Revolution to the Civil War, choices captured in its 1996 album, “American Journey.”
In 1999, to mark the millennium, it supplied “Revelation: 1000-2000,” a program of music spanning 10 centuries, elevating eyebrows among the many presenters who championed its early-music packages.
“When, say, we’re doing Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, the Doors, Bob Dylan and Ruth Crawford Seeger, they sort of take a look at us and say, ‘I don’t learn about that,’ ” Mr. Jaffee instructed The Omaha World Herald in 2000. “ ‘You’re alleged to be doing madrigals.’ ”
Mr. Jaffee is survived by his spouse and a sister, Claire Jaffee Speciner.
Among the consort’s extra hanging efforts was the Christmas live performance it carried out for years, taking part in music related to that vacation from lengthy earlier than the trendy model of Christmas emerged. In 2006, prematurely of a efficiency in Pennsylvania, Mr. Jaffee defined the intent of this system to The Intelligencer Journal of Lancaster. His philosophy might nicely be utilized to all the group’s work.
“What we attempt to do is carry folks right into a world that they may not know,” he mentioned. “We use the music as a springboard to the non secular expertise. That’s our objective. We wish to contain the viewers and allow them to think about that they’re in one other time and place.”