A classical record legend has died

We’ve been informed of the death of John McClure, director of Columbia Masterworks in the golden years and producer of all the late Bruno Walter sessions and many of the Leonard Bernstein recordings. Not to mention 35 records with Igor Stravinsky. And much of Glenn Gould.

John was a reserved, disciplined figure in a company of peacocks. Like John Hammond in the pop division, he had an ear for young talent and an unshakeable rigour. He signed Terry Riley and Philip Glass, only to get overruled by top brass. He was considerate, compassionate and ever protective of junior staff. A lovely man, by all accounts.

Here’s one of the last interviews he gave. There are very few photographs in circulation of this shy, essential man.


mcclure bernstein

l-r: Hans Leonhard, Leonard Bernstein, John McClure, Hellmuth Kolbe. Photo courtesy Ursula Kolbe.

UPDATE: Click here for late Times obit.

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  • I had the privilege of hearing him as part of a panel discussion several years back at the NY Philharmonic. His hard work left us a legacy of superb recordings. We need many more John McClures in this world.

  • A complete stranger to Mr McClure, I sent an email to him a few years ago to express my admiration for his musical and technical skills, not expecting a response from such a busy and important individual but merely wishing to indicate my appreciation of his artistry. I was delighted to receive a very friendly reply that demonstrated his modesty. We continued to exchange occasional emails and I was saddened to learn of his passing. I agree that we need more like Mr McClure.

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