The Pride of Torrington  

Rebecca LaBrecque - Modern Pianist 


Rebecca LaBrecque, a pianist who championed new music and new ways of using the keyboard in a classical concert setting, died on Sunday at Calpary Hospital in the Bronx. She was 45 and lived in Manhattan.The cause was a series of brain tumors, Ms. LaBrecque's sister, Sandra T. Parsons, said.

Beginning in the mid-1970's, Ms. LaBrecque was heard regularly in New York concert halls playing contemporary works as both soloist and chamber player. A musician who was able to quickly assimilate difficult music and perform it persuasively, Ms. LaBrecque was regularly called upon to perform in composer retrospectives. She commissioned more than 60 works, and revived many neglected 20th-century scores.

One of these was the Roger Sessions Piano Concerto, which Ms. LaBrecque performed with the American Composers Orchestra in 1984. It had been performed only twice since Sessions com
posed it in 1958. In the same concert, she gave the premieres of concertos composed for her by Joseph Manieri and Daniel Brewbaker. In 1988 she revived Henry Cowell's 1929 Piano Concerto for a performance with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center.Ms. LaBrecque's connection with the music of Sessions went beyond the concerto. With the composer supervising, she recorded all of his Piano Sonatas. Her recordings also included the works of Frank Martin and David Froom. 

One of Ms. LaBrecque's most unusual performances was a 1986 recital at Merkin Concert Hall in which she simultaneously played the piano and a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer. The program was devoted to works she commissioned for the occasion, insisting that the composers write for both instruments.Ms. LaBrecque was born in Torrington, Conn., on April 28, 1950, and studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and at the State University at Stony Brook.