College of Fine Arts professor Anthony di Bonaventura inspired a new way of thinking, said Thomas Weaver, one of his students.
Di Bonaventura was the best mentor he ever had, Weaver said.
“From the first lesson when I came in, he completely transformed the way that I play,” Weaver, a CFA senior, said. “I came in, and I thought I was okay at the piano, and he just completely transformed the way that I think about music, the way that I approach the piano and I think through that, through music, we became close.”
Di Bonaventura died on Monday, his 83rd birthday, according to a CFA press release. He was a professor in the School of Music for almost forty years.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved Professor di Bonaventura,” said CFA Dean Benjamín Juárez in the release. “A major figure in the music world since his debut as a child prodigy, Tony enriched the School of Music with his passionate commitment to musical excellence and his advocacy of new music.”
A highly acclaimed musician, di Bonaventura was also director of the Brandywine International Piano Institute at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, according to the release.
He performed in 27 countries and appeared with major orchestras and conductors across the world, the release stated.
“Professor di Bonaventua was a beloved colleague and a great teacher, and an important pianist who made a very large contribution to 20th century music, both new music and the master works for the piano,” said Robert Dodson, director of CFA’s School of Music, in an interview. “He is going to be greatly missed.”
The release acknowledged di Bonaventura as “a master teacher of international stature.”
He was awarded the Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence, BU’s highest award for excellence in teaching, in May 1992.
Di Bonaventura was also given an honorary doctorate from Husson College in May 2002.
He began studying piano at three years old and graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music with highest honors, the release stated.
“We’re very sorry and thinking of his family,” said BU spokesman Colin Riley.
Jeremiah Moon, a CFA senior, said Di Bonaventura was his chamber music coach during the spring 2011 semester and he was a terrific teacher.
“He was very knowledgeable and very patient, but he was inspiring,” he said. “He was very good at teaching others how to hear music.”
Moon said while he did not know di Bonaventura extensively, he the professor was a caring and giving man.
Weaver said di Bonaventura was always entertaining during lessons while successfully teaching.
“I remember in one studio class I was turning pages for another student, and before I got up and sat down he looked at me and said, ‘Hey Tom, are you sure you know how to read music?’” he said. “This is three years into my degree, so it was just hysterical.”
Weaver said di Bonaventura was a magnificent pianist who truly understood music.
“He didn’t perform much since I got here, but he did give a recital last year, and it was probably one of the best musical experiences that I’ve heard, the way he commanded the piano and the way you knew he cared about every note,” he said.
Weaver said in addition to being an accomplished pianist, di Bonaventura was a teacher who always made time for his students.
“He was probably the most caring teacher that I’ve ever met,” Weaver said. “It felt like he always put his students first and that he’d do anything for us and it was just a privilege to know him and I’m going to miss him.”
Funeral services will be held Nov. 19 at 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart Parish in Newton Centre. Visiting hours will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Henry J. Burke & Sons Funeral Home in Wellesley Hills.