May 15, 1949 - May 2, 2021
Michael David Fleming died peacefully in the bosom of his family 2 May 2021 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Mr. Fleming, a music and dance critic was a Renaissance man of letters, a scholar of the Baroque, and an incisive newspaperman and interviewer. For example, he coaxed Van Cliburn to discuss his spectacular career for the first time in 25 years in Fort Worth, Texas, for the New York Time: published 9 June 1985, during the 1985 installment of the international piano competition that is named for him [https://www.nytimes.com/1985/06/09/arts/van-cliburn-reflects-on-the-past-and-a-possible-future.html]. He also interviewed arts luminaries such as Luciano Pavarotti, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, and the Danish danseur noble and choreographer, Eric Bruhn. Mr. Fleming received a B.A., summa cum laude, 1970, from Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He received his M.M. from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, 1972; followed by a Ph.D., again at Washington University. His translation of the third volume of Syntagma Musicum by the16th Century German composer Michael Praetorius served as his dissertation. Mr. Fleming’s career as a critic, columnist, and editor includes tenures at the St. Louis Globe-Democrat; Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Texas; St. Petersburg Times, Fla.; and St. Paul Pioneer-Press, Minn. (1988-2000). An award-winning journalist, his work appeared also in New York Times, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, Boston Globe, and New Grove Dictionary of Music in the United States. The St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), nominated his commentary for the 1986 Pulitzer Prize. In between, Mr. Fleming appraised museum exhibitions. He broke the background story the creation of Andrew Wyeth’s celebrated 1948 series, Christina’s World, interviewing the artist at length about the history and creation of the works of art: Wyeth, in his early 30s, spent his summers in Maine, where he lived near Anna Christina Olson, who inspired creativity. Ms. Olson suffered from a neuromuscular disease and eventually lost the ability to walk. Mr. Fleming was a respected program annotator and pre-concert lecturer for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (1982-1997); and he offered similar scholarship to the orchestras of New York, Pittsburgh, Penn.; Toronto, Canada; and San Francisco, Calif., as well as Opera Theatre St. Louis, Santa Fe Opera, N.M., and the Spoleto Festival, Charleston, S. C. Mr. Fleming was an adjunct faculty member at Washington University and the University of Minnesota. He taught counterpoint (the relationship between two or more musical lines, or voices, which are harmonically interdependent yet independent in rhythm and melodic contour developing: a concept that emerged during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period, especially in the Baroque.) and bibliography (the study and description of musical documents and of the literature about music, especially in published form and noted as resource material for academic papers). He also was awarded study and travel grants from The Center for Arts Criticism, St. Paul, Minn., and numerous fellowships from the Music Critics Association of North America. Mr. Fleming graduated from William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, J.D. cum laude, 1996, as a Dean’s Merit Scholar and Associate Editor of the William Mitchell Law Review, 1994–95; followed by lengthy career as a practicing attorney, in the Twin Cities, specializing in wills and trusts. He also served as an advocate for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). He retired in 2007 to Cedar Rapids to be near family. But Mr. Fleming continued his love for the classical music art form. Throughout his life he performed as a harpsichordist with Baroque Ensembles and as a church organist wherever he landed to earn his bread. He credits his mother for his early keyboard education, first playing Baby Elephant Walk on a Lowrey Magic Genie organ before graduating to a Hammond electric deluxe model. He had an appreciation for the pump organ, especially the Victorian-era W. W. Kimball model, which allowed him to trot out his Lutheran Hymnal repertoire. And over time he graduated to Bach, Widor, Duruflé, Frank, and Mendelssohn. His favorite: Elgar’s “Nimrod,” section of the Enigma Variations. He also developed a new late-in-life passion for something called Star Trek, which had completely escaped his worldview. And he found particular pleasure in the wit and wisdom of The Golden Girls. In between binge-watching he managed to continue to hone his marksmanship, a skill he began to perfect in his father’s in-home shooting gallery as a teenager in Chesterfield, Mo. Mr. Fleming was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, 15 May 1949, the only child of Robert Jack Fleming and Betty Jean Deremo of St. Louis and Cincinnati. He is an alumnus of Parkway Senior High School, Chesterfield, Mo. His parents preceded him in death, as well as his grandparents: Robert Marius Fleming and Amanda Estelle Stork; and Harry and Estella Gerth Deremo; his aunt, Marjorie J. Fleming and Richard L. Lukey Sr.; uncle, Harry L. and Sandra Blaggo Deremo, Jr.; and his aunt, Lorrayne G. Stork, and great-grandmother, Louisa W. Wittemeier Gerth, all of Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr. Fleming’s great-great grandfather, David Michael Fleming, Piqua, OH, established the Ohio Democratic-leaning newspaper, The Piqua Enquirer, in 1849 only to rename the publication in 1855 as a Republican voice: The Journal. The paper continued publication under Fleming as The Leader-Journal until his death in 1898, following a merger with a competitor. In the summer of 1886, Fleming established a second paper: The Piqua Daily Dispatch, which continued publication until 1901, and now is known as The Piqua Daily Call. As publisher, David M. Fleming is credited with delivering the Ohio Republican delegation to Abraham Lincoln for his first nomination victory as president of the United States in 1860. He later was a confidant of President Andrew Johnson. Mr. Fleming is survived by his spouse of 43 years, Michael J. Wegs: “two boys together clinging, arm’d and fearless fulfilling their foray.” The couple was married in a Roman Catholic ceremony by the Rev. Bernard Schloemer 16 September 1979 in their home in St. Louis. Their wedding was held in the living room of their home where the couple created an altar from an oak library table; made the communion bread; and a Mondavi Red filled the chalice. Two deacons from Kenrick Seminary assisted the Rev. Schloemer. The on proviso: no cameras (fearing recrimination and retribution). Their guests, who were from the religious and academic worlds they inhabited at the time, dined al fresco on lasagna, artisan breads, and a mélange of marinated fruit salad served from a carved watermelon. Michael David Fleming and Michael John Wegs received a civil marriage license 26 June 2010, following the Iowa Supreme Court ruling to legalizing marriage equality. A family celebration was held at their home in Marion. Additional survivors include: cousins, Mrs. Amanda Johnson, Bloomington, Hills, Mich., and Richard L. (Pamela) Lukey, St. Joseph, Mich; beloved mother-in law, Mrs. Betty J. Helmich; sisters-in-law, Patricia A. Wessel and Linda J. Alloway, Indianola, Iowa; and brothers-in-law, David R. McClay, Oskaloosa, Iowa and Jeffrey R. (Jennifer D.) Wegs, Moberly, Mo. His nieces and nephews will remember their uncle as the sweet, darling, gentle man that he was. A private memorial service was held May 4 in Cedar Rapids.
Michael David Fleming died peacefully in the bosom of his family 2 May 2021 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Mr. Fleming, a music and dance critic was a Renaissance man of letters, a scholar of the Baroque, and an incisive newspaperman and interviewer.... View Obituary & Service Information
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