Nunc dimittis

September 4, 2017

Nunc Dimittis

Joseph Peter Fitzer, born February 6, 1939, in Chicago, Illinois, died July 21. In 1970, he received a doctorate degree from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, with concurrent study at the School of Music of De Paul University, also in Chicago. He authored two books on nineteenth-century Catholic thinkers, particularly Johann Adam Moehler, as well as numerous articles for The Diapason and The American Organist magazines. He served on the faculty of St. John’s University, New York, from 1970 until 1988, teaching philosophy of religion and modern church history, and also as organist and choirmaster of churches in New York, North Amherst, Massachusetts, and Chicago. Fitzer was married to Susan Pollack Fitzer (died 2012), to Mary Molina Fitzer (died 2005), and to Mary Gifford. Joseph Fitzer is survived by his wife, Mary Gifford, his son, Paul Fitzer, and two granddaughters, Katherine and Elizabeth Fitzer.


Michael D. Friesen, 63, died June 19 in Denver, Colorado. He was born August 12, 1953, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he attended local schools. He attended Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana, graduating in 1975 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing degree. In 1977, he earned the master’s degree in international business from the University of South Carolina. As part of his degree work, he interned with Air France in Paris, using his weekends to visit the great organs of Europe by train. He later attended Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois, where he earned a master’s degree in public administration around 1991. In 2001, he completed a master’s degree in American history at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb.

After working in international marketing with the Addressograph Multigraph Corporation, Friesen began a career as a civic administrator. After developing an award-winning recycling program for the Village of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, he served as assistant village manager for Algonquin, Illinois, and village manager for Lakewood, Illinois, and later, Meade, Colorado. 

Michael Friesen was married to Susan Werner Friesen from 1978 until 2001. They have one daughter, Elizabeth Ann.

Friesen had a life-long love of the pipe organ, beginning with organ lessons from his mother, Evelyn Friesen. He continued his organ studies while at Valparaiso University. He had developed his own master list of organbuilders by the late 1970s, compiled from The Diapason, The American Organist, and The Tracker, a list from which he planned to visit every builder’s shop. During their honeymoon, the Friesens visited three organbuilders’ shops, and each family vacation included a visit to at least one new builder.

Michael attended his first Organ Historical Society convention with Susan in 1980, in the Finger Lakes region of New York. They were charter members of the Chicago-Midwest Chapter of the OHS, establishing the chapter’s journal, The Stopt Diapason, for which they were the first editors and publishers. Friesen’s extensive research on the history of Chicago pipe organs in the 19th and 20th centuries was and remains highly respected; issues of The Stopt Diapason are archived at the chapter’s website and are still regularly used by researchers in their work today. When the OHS held its first convention in Chicago in 1984, most of the research for the convention handbook was carried out by Michael Friesen. He was a frequent contributor of articles to The Diapason, The American Organist, and The Tracker, as well as articles on pipe organ history for the journals of the Denver Historical Society and the Colorado Historical Society. He served as consultant for new mechanical-action organ projects, as well as relocation and restoration projects for historic pipe organs. He was active in projects commissioning new music compositions, especially “Introit Psalm and Alleluia Verse,” composed by Richard Wienhorst for the Friesens’ wedding, published by Chantry Press. He was dean of the Denver Chapter of the American Guild of Organists from 2010 to 2011.

Michael Friesen is survived by his former wife, Susan Werner Friesen, his daughter, Elizabeth Ann Roscoe (Avery), three grandchildren (Matthew, Julia, and Benjamin), his mother, Evelyn Friesen, two sisters, Sandra Henson (David) and Janice Kuske (Kevin), one brother, Douglas Friesen (Anna-Marie), five nephews and three nieces, three great nieces and three great nephews. A memorial service was held June 24 at St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Cathedral, Denver, Colorado.


Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini, an Italian organist, harpsichordist, musicologist, teacher, and composer, died July 11 in Bologna, Italy. He was born October 7, 1929, in Bologna. He studied, organ, piano, and composition at the conservatory in Bologna, and later studied organ with Marcel Dupré at the conservatory in Paris, France. He graduated from the university at Padua in 1951. He taught at universities and conservatories in Bologna, Bolzano, and Parma in Italy and Freiburg in Switzerland. He was a guest instructor at various universities in the United States, including Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. He regularly taught organ courses at Haarlem, the Netherlands, and at Pistoia, Italy. He served as organist of the Basilica of San Petronio, Bologna, sharing duties with Liuwe Tamminga. With Renato Lunelli, he founded the journal L’organo in 1960. An active performer, he presented recitals throughout Europe and the United States. Tagliavini was a recognized authority in historical performance practice for the Baroque organ and harpsichord, and was a strong supporter of the historic organ movement in Italy. He was a prolific recording artist, earning several awards for his LP and CD discs. He was awarded several honorary degrees, including a doctorate in music from the University of Edinburgh and a doctorate in sacred music from the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome. As a musicologist, he published numerous papers and edited critical editions of music.

A look at the life and contributions of Luigi Tagliavini is planned for a future issue of The Diapason. Also, see comments on Tagliavini’s work at Southern Methodist University in Larry Palmer’s “Harpsichord News” in this issue.