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18.12.05

In Memoriam Scott Reiss

Scott Reiss, 1951-2005I was literally stunned to read of the suicide of local early music specialist Scott Reiss. Tim Page wrote a beautiful tribute on Saturday (Scott Reiss: In the Pipes, He Found a Calling, December 17) in the Post, and Matt Schudel contributed the official obituary (Musician Scott Reiss, Master of the Recorder, Dies, December 18) today. Here is some of what Tim Page wrote:

But there was another side to Scott Reiss, and those who were closest to him were shocked and saddened but not especially surprised when he walked out into his Arlington garden Wednesday afternoon, sat down by the grave of a beloved cat, and ended his life with a gunshot.

"Scott was a victim of mental illness," Chancey said yesterday. "He suffered from bipolar disease -- manic depression -- for most of his life, and he finally gave in to it. He just couldn't fight it off any longer. "He found much of his life very rewarding, but it was always a lot of work for him," she continued. "It was terribly difficult for him to stay balanced and productive. Considering all the pain that he was in, the fact that he was able to do as much as he did for so many years was a triumph that we should not underestimate."
Having heard and seen Scott Reiss play the recorder with Hesperus, I would never have imagined that this man's life, as animated as it was by a love of and delight in music, could end in suicide. We send our condolences to his wife and musical collaborator, Tina Chancey.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is such a tragedy. I remember attending a Folger Consort performance with special guests and personal friends, The Western Wind. It was thrilling. Afterward, we all went out for dinner. I remember Scott as introverted, almost an observer. Scott was such a talented gentleman. He and his talents will be greatly missed.

Anonymous said...

One year later--after Scott's death--I can still remember the horror that my partner and I felt to discover that Scott had killed himself. Knowing the terrors of depression from the inside, I still am horror-stricken at Scott's taking this terrible act. Part of the angst of depression is wishing that somehow I could have told him how much joy he brought into our lives, how much we treasured him and his work. That we didn't ask him to be perfect, only to be himself--which was a gift that only those outside himself could appreciate.

I suspect that Scott's final gift to me has been to illuminate the horrors that suicide brings to the survivors. As many time as suicide has tempted me I now realize that those left behind bear a terrible burden. That staying alive is a gift to those I love.

I wish Tina the best. She deserves all of our support. Surely she misses Scott in ways that we outsiders can only imagine.