Frank A. Wallace

June 2, 2020


It was hardly a surprise when Frank A. Wallace died of ocular melanoma on June 2nd at 67. Through his musical performances, recordings and blog posts, he had been preparing us for this eventuality for three years. As with all great artists, it is impossible to speak of his art without looking at how he lived his life. “What a shining and big-hearted spirit, imbued with laughter, love and boundless creativity. The grace and artistry that he demonstrated in his music and his transition are an inspiration to us all.” —guitarist Bill Kanengiser. Other friends, fans and colleagues agree...“One of the finest and most talented humans I have ever known” / “inventiveness, creativity, and fantasy in abundance” / “Frank was passionate, courageous, kind, and generous” / “through him I witnessed what a musician could be” / “one of the most purely creative souls I ever met” / “a wonderful human, a deep thinker and a fantastic musician”.

Onstage and in his many recordings and videos, Wallace was elegant, whimsical and sophisticated. At home with family and four dogs, he was down-to-earth, physical, funny and committed to the daily disciplines of meditation, yoga, guitar, voice, composition, scything and chopping wood. At five, Frank moved from his Houston TX birthplace to San Carlos CA. He remained on the West Coast through college, studying classical guitar at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The day after graduation he drove East, where he lived for the rest of his life—first in Boston, then in the 1789 farmhouse surrounded by forest in the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire where he and wife/music partner Nancy Knowles raised their two sons, and where he died.

In a life that embraced change, Frank had a distinguished and colorful career in music as a concert/recording artist, composer and teacher. Upon arriving in Boston in 1974, he joined the early music ensemble Quadrivium—where he met Nancy Knowles, beginning a love affair and creative partnership that lasted over forty-five years. From 1976 to 1980 Frank taught classical guitar at the New England Conservatory of Music. Also in 1976 Wallace and Knowles founded the ensemble LiveOak, performing throughout North and South America and Europe. As Trio LiveOak with John Fleagle (“...their eloquence coould not have been improved upon” —The New York Times), and later with LiveOak and Company, they specialized in medieval and renaissance music for two decades. Wallace was renowned for his lute and vihuela playing and as a master of self-accompanied song. Composing inspired his return to guitar in the mid-1990s. As Duo LiveOak, Frank and Nancy performed and recorded contemporary art songs until 2012, showcasing Frank’s many song cycles. For the last twenty years or so, his solo guitar performances and recording took center stage, to rave reviews. He became one of the classical guitar’s most prolific composers, writing, performing and recording works for solo guitar (from major concert pieces to simple etudes for students) as well as ensemble works for guitar orchestra, guitar with chamber instruments and a large repertoire for guitar and voice.

Memorial gatherings and concerts will be scheduled (TBA) when it is safe again to gather. Frank leaves his wife, singer/visual artist Nancy Knowles, their sons Gus Wallace and Adam Wallace, his three siblings on the West Coast—Maryanne Leipper, Karen Weissman, and Ken Wallace, and many students, fans, friends and colleagues to carry on his legacy. We hope you will help by listening to and playing/performing/sharing his beautiful music and by reading his writings, all of which you can find at the following links:

scores and recordings:

blog, bios, reviews:

videos: youtube

audio: soundcloud

cancer journey:


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