(Photo:   Woman Playing a Lute by Artemisia Gentileschi
c1610-12, Rome, Spada Gallery)

Joseph Iadone

(Reference:  The New York Times, 16 April 2004)

Joseph Iadone, 89, Who Revived Interest in the Lute, Dies


Joseph Iadone, an early-music specialist and recording artist who was among the first in postwar America to popularize the lute, died on March 23 in New Haven. He was 89.

Mr. Iadone died at a nursing home, where he lived, said his former wife, Susan Iadone.

Mr. Iadone was a master on the lute, the delicate ancestor of the guitar that was common in Europe into the 18th century but by the 20th century had become obscure. Mr. Iadone, along with Suzanne Bloch and others, performed with the lute in recordings and in concerts in various groups, including the New York Pro Musica, the Renaissance Quartet and his own Iadone Consort.

Mr. Iadone first played the guitar and the string bass. He performed in classical and jazz groups and attended the Yale School of Music to study with Paul Hindemith, the modernist composer. He received bachelor's and master's degrees from Yale. Mr. Iadone picked up the lute on joining Hindemith's Collegium Musicum when Hindemith offered him a blunt invitation: "You, Iadone, play the lute."

He was largely self-taught on the lute, studying [Elizabethan] techniques found in historical treatises. He played the strings with his fingertips rather than with his fingernails, which created a gentler sound. He also had the advantage of fine instruments: Hindemith arranged for his group to use the historical instrument collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

[An ancestor of the guitar, the lute was a popular instrument in 18th century Europe. By the 20th century, however, recordings and concerts featuring the lute were rare. Iadone brought the lute's unique sound back to modern audiences by performing with the New York Pro Musica, the Renaissance Quartet and his own Iadone Consort. He also recorded several albums, including "The Art of the Lute" and "Love Songs in Shakespeare's Time."]

With George Soulos, a former student, Mr. Iadone founded one of the country's first early-music workshops, at Windham College in Putney, Vt., which closed in 1978. There in the 1960's and 70's, he trained a generation of musicians. He also taught at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Conn., for 22 years. [In 2003, he donated his four lutes to Yale and Quinnipiac universities.]

Mr. Iadone recorded for Decca, Columbia and other labels. He was also an accompanist for Victoria de los Angeles, the Spanish soprano; Hugues Cuénod, a Swiss tenor; and the countertenor Russell Oberlin.

His survivors include sons George Paul Bretz of Montana and James F. Bretz of Denver; a brother, Nicholas Jr., of Las Vegas; and a sister, Helen Iadone Williams of North Haven, Conn. Another son, Mark Bretz, predeceased him.

(Reference:  NEWSLETTER of the Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments,
Fall 2004, Number 27, p. 1)

Two fine early 20-century lutes by the distinguished Bavarian luthier Herman Hauser (1872-1952) were presented to the Collection last fall by the late Joseph Iadone. The two instruments were made in Munich and date from 1919 and 1934, respectively. The bodies of both lutes were formed of nine maple ribs, and the tables are of quarter-sawn spruce. Both also have seven courses of strings (six double courses and a chanterelle). . .

In the 1960s, Iadone helped to established one of the country's first early-music workshops at Windham Colege in Vermont. Here for nearly twenty years he was mentor and master of an entire generation of lute players. In 1978 he took up a position at the University of Hartford's Hartt School of Music, where he taught until 1990.

Obituary Listings
Return to W.C.A.A. HomePage