Sad tidings: orchestra manager dead at 66

Sad tidings: orchestra manager dead at 66


norman lebrecht

October 17, 2011

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 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



  • paul myers says:

    I was so sorry to read about Gideon Toeplitz, who was a charming, witty man. I knew him in his Boston days with Seiji Ozwawa and, when Frederica von Stade recorded Ravel’s Two Hebrew Melodies, Gideon sat with me in the Control Room with the ‘originals’, to make sure she got the words and pronunciations right!

  • David Hyslop says:

    Norman ;

    Gideon was a fine manager and a good friend.

    I spoke with him about 3 weeks ago and he seemed fine.

    He is a loss to the field of classical music and as a good friend.