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Monday, August 20, 2012

New Clarinet Music for My Beloved Teacher

I was playing with a summer festival orchestra when my friend and teacher, Bob Fitzer, called me to tell me he was sick. I was sitting in front of a fan in my very-hot apartment as he told me about the blood tests he was having done and the possibility that he had diabetes. We agreed that diabetes was manageable and he talked with me for two hours, first about a woman that he thought he should have married, and wondering if he made a mistake by not doing so. This was after I described to him a romantic situation that I was in that could only be described as complicated... He was not one to judge, except when it came to my articulation.

A couple months later as I was walking around the Lincoln Park Zoo on a sunny Friday after a day of classes, Bob called me to talk for a couple hours about the new bass clarinet he bought as I stared at the lions. He was going to be the regular substitute with the Cleveland Orchestra. I was SO THRILLED because I knew Bob was pretty much the best-clarinetist-ever... and for him to have settled down long enough to be recognized and play among some of the other "best-clarinetists-ever" was so exciting.

And a couple months after that... Bob called again to tell me he had cancer. I was 25, and the only person close to me that died young was my own grandfather. I didn't know what to say, or do... but we talked for a couple hours on the phone. He was so optimistic, like always. He was moving to a new house so he could have parties and people could stay with him. He reconciled with some long-lost people in his life. He was working on new projects and recorded with his friend, composer Johnterryl Plumeri.

Romance for Clarinet, Strings and Harp by Johnterryl Plumeri

The following is a link to a full length recording which is being featured on Boston Classical Music channel WGBH.

Johnterryl Plumeri's Romance for Clarinet, Strings and Harp with clarinetist Robert Fitzer

Bob went into this part of his life with energy and hope, and a strange happiness that was probably brought on by the people he loved coming together.

I took a few days off from school to visit Bob. We talked for a couple hours, he advised me on my career decisions and told me how great I sounded and how great I looked. This was the last time that I saw him, and the last time that we talked for a couple hours. I miss him every day, and I think of him every time I play the clarinet.