Two orchestras go to war over dead donor's millions

Two orchestras go to war over dead donor's millions


norman lebrecht

November 29, 2011

Kurt Nassau was a gems expert in New Jersey. He invented patents and bought and sold precious stones. He was, as they say, comfortable.

When he drew up his will, he stipulated that his entire fortune was to be left to his favourite orchestra – you know the one, the symphony, what’s it called.

So the lawyer wrote down ‘the Israel Symphony Orchestra’.

Now, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra – claiming to be the country’s best known – is fighting the Israel Symphony Orchestra, based in Rishon Lezion, for whatever’s left of Dr Nassau’s estate once the lawyers have taken their fees. Report here.

Verdict: next week.

Moral of the story: make sure you know which orchestra you follow.



  • Mathieu says:

    Fortunately only two orchestras are involved. Imagine if his favorite orchestra had been “that Berlin orchestra”, or “that London orchestra”, “you know which one”! As a lawyer, I must say this is a quite interesting example of interpretative issue (I am going to take it as an example for my students tomorrow!).

    • Emil Archambault says:

      What a stupid lawyer who wrote the will. He should have asked for precisions.

      • Mathieu says:

        Either is he stupid, or he does not know sh*t about classical music… or he does not like Zubin Mehta! Anyway, I am curious to know which interpretative strategy the judge is going to choose… — Although, if I were him, I would simply avoid the will, and give the money to the Philadelphia Orchestra — they sure need it!

        • Alexander Radziewski says:

          The Israel Symphony Orchestra in Rishon LeZion needs it too. They are not so much spoiled by correct placed donations like the Israel Philharmonic.