Obituary: Influential Conductor, Vocal Coach & Pianist Thomas Muraco Passes Away

By Francisco Salazar

Musician Thomas Muraco has died.

According to the Manhattan School of Music, where Muraco was a faculty member, the esteemed teacher and musician passed away on Feb. 3, 2024, after a sudden illness. He was surrounded by his sister Lorraine, partner Thomas, and close friends and colleagues.

Muraco began his conducting career as an assistant to Leonard Bernstein, John Nelson, and James Conlon.

Following his studies he went on to lead performances with numerous operatic companies including Theater Bremen where he was named Studienleiter-Kapellmeister, Opera McGill in Montreal, Opera San Jose, IVAI in Tel Aviv, and Tri-Cities Opera.

He went on to become an acclaimed pianist performing with some of the world’s greatest singers including Ben Heppner, Martina Arroyo, Mary Dunleavy, Maureen Forrester, Denyce Graves, Sumi Jo, Chris Merritt, Roberta Peters, Hermann Prey, and Dolora Zajick, among others. He also worked with such instrumentalists as John Graham, Robert Mann, Arnold Steinhardt, Zara Nelsova, Ransom Wilson, Peter Winograd, and the American and Shanghai String Quartets.

Throughout his career as a performer, he went on to also perform at the La Scala, Dortmund Konzerthaus, Opéra National de Paris, Berlin Philharmonie, and the Barbican Centre in London, among others.

In 1993 he joined the Manhattan School of Music faculty where he served as a member of MSM’s Collaborative Piano faculty, a Vocal Coach, and taught numerous students enrolled in his French Diction, Recitative, and other courses.  He also prepared and conducted Opera Repertoire Ensemble productions of “Die Zauberflöte,” “Rigoletto,” “Falstaff,” “Faust,” “Hänsel und Gretel,” “I Capuleti e I Montecchi,” “Lakmé,” “La Bohème,” and “La Traviata,” among others.

Additionally, he led master classes, frequently performed with faculty colleagues and students, and led performances, including Collaborative Piano-Vocal Seminar programs and Opera Repertoire Ensemble (ORE).

Outside of his work with MSM, he taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music and State University of New York at Stony Brook. He also gave masterclasses at the Aspen and Banff Music Festivals and the St. Louis Conservatory.

Muraco was the chairman of the jury of De Vive Voix in Vivonne, France, and as a pianist recorded for the Serenus, CRI, and Musical Heritage labels.