I have just heard from a colleague in Pittsburgh that Gideon Toeplitz, who ran the symphony orchestra from 1987 to 2003, has died in his sleep while visiting family in Israel. He was 66 and suffered from diabetes.
Gideon’s great achievement was to bring Mariss Jansons to Pittsburgh in 1997 after a deep-chill dose of Lorin Maazel. Jansons struck an instant chord with city and musicians alike, but he hated long-distance flights and quit after just five years. Gideon followed him through the door a year later. He had a short spell with the ill-fated Honolulu Symphony and then dropped off the radar.
I had New Year greetings from him three weeks ago, and he sounded in good spirits. Although externally gruff, he was a warm and funny man when you got to know him. His father had been principal flute of the Israel Philharmonic and he knew orchestras inside out. I shall miss Gideon. I hope the PSO give him a good send-off. An orchestra manager’s life is not always a happy one.
Here’s a longer bio:
GIDEON TOEPLITZ, SENIOR ADVISOR – WASHINGTON, DC ARTISTIC PLANNING, MUSIC DIRECTOR SEARCHES, ORGANIZATIONAL CONSULTING Gideon Toeplitz joined the Arts Consulting Group in 2004 with over 30 years of experience in the performing arts field. He was formerly the Executive Vice President and Managing Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony from 1987- 2003, and has had a remarkable career as one of the most respected administrators in the performing arts. Under Mr. Toeplitz’s leadership, the Pittsburgh Symphony achieved new levels of artistic excellence, becoming one of the U.S. orchestras most often invited to tour aboard. He was instrumental in attracting two of the world’s finest musicians to Pittsburgh — Mariss Jansons as Music Director and Marvin Hamlisch as Principal Pops Conductor. Balancing artistic excellence with fiscal responsibility, Mr. Toeplitz was the architect of several dynamic strategic plans. Mr. Toeplitz is recognized for his bestbusiness practices in bringing the “Hoshin” style of management to the Pittsburgh Symphony, where board, musicians, staff and volunteers all had a voice and stake in the future direction of the institution. He is an expert in labor relations, artistic planning, organizational culture and maximizing revenue from both earned and contributed sources. He was integrally involved in bringing the Pittsburgh Symphony to an international audience. Between 1989 and 2003 the Orchestra toured Europe seven times, the Far East four times, South America twice, Mexico and Puerto Rico. These performances were in addition to numerous U.S. tours, including annually at Carnegie Hall. Prior to joining the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1987, Mr. Toeplitz was Executive Director of the Houston Symphony for six years. He previously held the Orchestra Manager post at the Boston Symphony and was Assistant Manager of the Rochester Philharmonic. Mr. Toeplitz was the first President of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Alliance, and serves on the advisory boards of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music and the Avery Fisher Prize. He was a member of Board of Directors of the American Jewish Committee, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, and the Kelly-Strayhorn Theatre. He has also served on the American Symphony Orchestra League Board of Directors. He was also a participant in National Endowment for the Arts panels and has written numerous articles for professional publications. Born in Israel, Mr. Toeplitz was raised in a musical family. He first studied piano and then flute with his father and later with Marcel Moyse, the dean of flute teachers. His father Uri was a founding member of the Israel Philharmonic and was its principal flutist for 35 years. Mr. Toeplitz has a BA in Economics and Political Science from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles.