Fred Kasper Biography

Fred was born on January 29, 1952 in Schenectady, New York, into a cultured and musical family. Both of his parents Charlys and John, were chemists. His father, John Kasper (1915–2005) was well known in his field of crystallography. Here you can see some information on John Kasper's work in crystallography. Both of Fred's parents played musical instruments, and nurtured his musical talents. His father, in younger years, played clarinet, which became Fred's instrument and at which he excelled from the age of nine. He also played piano and composed music from childhood. He was the oldest of three children. He maintained good friendships throughout his life with his sister Marian, and his brother Robert, who is a Professor of Computer Science at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio. go to Robert Kasper web page. His mother, Charlys, is an exceptional gardener and from her he learned to appreciate nature and especially cacti, succulents and flowering plants. To the end of his life he loved walking at the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens. He appreciated and visited his parents; his mother still lives in his childhood home in Scotia, New York.

go to childhood photos

In 1968 he auditioned for Robert Marcellus, clarinetist for the Cleveland Orchestra, and was chosen by him as a freshman at the Cleveland Institute of Music. This was an unusual honor, as mainly upper classmen were given the coveted honor of being Marcellus students. One of the keynote experiences of Fred's life was the year and a half he spent as a student of Robert Marcellus and as a privileged listener to the Cleveland Orchestra at rehearsals and concerts. He recalled these pleasures vividly. He was participant in the Cleveland Institute Orchestra. He continued his interest and admiration of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell at that time, and during his life collected virtually all of the orchestral recordings by George Szell on LP.

Following George Szell's death in the summer of 1969 Fred left the Cleveland Institute, and traveled to California to pursue independent philosophical and literary work. During this time he audited classes at the newly established California Institute of the Arts, where a strong group of artists and composers had gathered. He was offered a scholarship to the Institute, by then composer-dean, Mel Powell, on the basis of his excellent skills on clarinet but he refused, since he was not interested in devoting his time to playing.

He had, during that time several, what he considered, 'mystical experiences' which established in his mind, his position in life as a 'mystic.' This unusual view allowed him to view his identity as not based on position or career. Although he admired Buddism and especially Tibetan culture, he never completely identified with any formal view of life, and disliked 'organizations.' (The one exception to this was the hospice organization in Santa Barbara, which was a tremendous help to him during his last illness, and which he admired.)

During his life he read classical and modern literature, and studied independently philosophy, psychology, and art. He appreciated Marcel Duchamp, especially. He played and composed music from an early age. He built two clavichords and enjoyed especially playing the music of Bach and his sons and students. He loved Mozart. For a short time played the Asian Indian Saranji because of his love for Indian music. He enjoyed playing north and south Indian flutes. He was a fine recorder player. He was a great listener and audiophile. He appreciated experimentation. His interests spanned all of Western and world music. He and collected the recordings of many contemporary composers, and especially appreciated the work of
Milton Babbitt
see also Babbitt 2004 celebration and Kaikhosru Sorabji, as well as that of Morton Feldman, Iannis Xenakis, Carl Ruggles, and Charles Ives. He shared his great collection and broad knowledge with friends and family, having regular listening sessions in the home.

He developed exceptional skills on the baroque flute, which he considered his primary instrument. He enjoyed the work of flutist and friend Chris Norman,
go to: Chris Norman's page
and attended his week-long Boxwood School of the Wooden Flute for three years.

He married Kathleen Endress in Glenville, New York, in 1973. She already had two young children, Timothy and Colleen, ages seven and six, from a former marriage. He attempted to raise them as his own, and was a primary influence on their lives. They lived briefly in Staten Island, New York, spent nine months in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and settled in Santa Barbara, CA in 1976. His wife, Kathy, worked as an self-employed artist-jeweler.
See:Kathy's Art and Poetry Pages and Kathy's Jewelry Page
They were married for almost 27 years. He was able to pursue his musical interests, to transcribe and compose music, and to write a ten part work of 'mystical poetry,' which summarizes his views of life and art. This will in time, be added to this site. See samples of these sections: Return at the Winter Solstice and DIGRAMS

Fred was at times a difficult personality, a perfectionist, and always, complex; he valued and had, an excellent sense of wry humor, and treasured his friendships. He was inventive, multi-faceted, and expressive in his musical and artistic taste. He had a taste for the obscure, the vast, and the unusual. He appreciated good food, wine and conversation.

For six years he enjoyed the friendship an musical companionship of Rick Wilson.
see Rick's: Historical Flutes Page
They met frequently for long and enjoyable sessions of flute duets, and performed for friends. Rick was guest artist at the singular Duo Galant concert in Santa Barbara two months before Fred died. He played duets with Fred by W.F Bach and transcriptions for two flutes from Mozart's opera The Magic Flute.
See the program
He shared with Rick an appreciation of the work and friendship of flute maker and musician Rod Cameron.
A sample from Rod's travel journal gives the flavor of the broadness of his personality.

He also admired the playing and friendship of Philippe Allain-Dupré.
Go to Philippe's discography
He appreciated the work of Catherine Folkers and Ardal Powell.
See Folkers and Powell Page
Fred valued his flutes and their artistry tremendously, cared for the flutes lovingly, and in the last five years of his life, his goal was to play each of his flutes an hour a day. He occasionally met that goal, which would mean six to nine hours, and many days he came close to that.

He especially enjoyed playing music with friends. He played renaissance flutes, was accomplished on the bass renaissance flute, and was learning to play nineteenth century keyed flutes under the influence of Rick Wilson. He enjoyed playing music (and golf— Fred was a 2 handicap) with son Timothy, who learned baroque violin as a child under Fred's influence. The two also maintained a lifelong friendship of ongoing conversation and play. Also musical companions over the years were gambist Tony Lolov, flutists Harry Bower, Harry Bernstein, Jay Peitzer and Timothy Burnett, and keyboard players Stephen Malinowski
See: Stephen's music animation machine and also his interestingsite index
Pat Rogers, and Ennis Fruhauf.
see: Ennis Fruhauf's page
He played improvisatory and world music with friend Michael Felcher. He maintained a lifelong friendship with Mitchell Kriegler, now clarinetist in the New York City Opera. He admired the work of friend composers Henry Brant
go to Henry Brant interview
and John Thow.
go to John Thow bio

In 1997 he met harpsichordist Daniel Jencka, who was to become one of his dearest friends. This collaboration was another of Fred's most treasured life experiences. Together they established 'Duo Galant.' They enjoyed almost two years of constant music, conversation friendship, and played privately for friends.
go to Daniel Jenka's music
go to Duo Galant brochure
Their first public concert was their last.
go to "Best Bet" feature interview with Fred by Starshine Roshell, Santa Barbara News Press, June 9, 2000.
go to Duo Galant Concert, June 15, 2000 in Santa Barbara
Fred's illness worsened a few weeks after the concert, and he never played the flute again. In 1998 he developed a small cut on the back of his heel. It was diagnosed as malignant melanoma. After several surgeries, he had two good years, during which time he relished the above musical activities, as well the pleasures of many above mentioned friendships. Other treasured friends were Kerry Tomlinson, Jeannine Ivy, Lisa Turetsky, Nan and Pete Evans, Fred and Carol Kenyon, Hyla Fetler, Tracy Fernandez, David Boxwell, Sean Endress, Christina Merwin, Sandi and Tim Mock, and Kitty Fixx. Daughter Colleen provided care and spa treatments at home, easing his last days, and excellent hospice nurses Sammi Hilow and Debby Molinar became dear friends and helped him tremendously. He died at home, surrounded by family and friends, at 1:35 am, on August 24, 2000.

go to Fred's childhood photos

go back to Fred's home page