1930 - 2007
Marvin Tartak was born in Milwaukee and grew up in Kaplan, La., a small city in Vermilion Parish that had been founded by one of his ancestors. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Chicago and his master's degree and doctorate at UC Berkeley. A member of the music faculty of City College of San Francisco, he taught courses in music history and the history of opera. He was a regular public lecturer for the San Francisco Opera Guild and contributed program notes to the San Francisco Symphony. A pianist of ferocious technique and wide-ranging interests, Mr. Tartak appeared for 20 years with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.
Marvin Tartak had a long association with the project to edit Rossini's music. He had developed special competence in dealing with the composer's late works, his Péchés de vieillesse, and was the editor of two volumes published by the Fondazione Rossini: Quelques riens pour album (1982) and Musique anodine - Album italiano (1985). In Marvin's own vieillesse he was editing another volume of the Péchés for Works of Gioachino Rossini (published by Bärenreiter-Verlag). Marvin brought wonderful musical skills to his task (that he was a fine pianist was always evident), but most of all he brought his own unique personality, his special combination of sophistication and wide-eyed innocence. Mr. Tartak's car bore the license plate "UN RIEN." We mourn his loss and will miss him greatly.
This obituary is adapted in part from that by Joshua Kosman in The San Francisco Chronicle, 3 August 2007.