Breaking: Classical music’s superagent has died

We have been informed of the death, early on Saturday, of Ronald Wilford, chairman and owner of Columbia Artists Management (CAMI).

Ronald, who was 87, had been on top of his business to the last, coming into the office most days of the week.

Known as the Silver Fox, he personally represented many of the world’s leading conductors – 111 of them at one time – but in recent years focussed on a core group consisting of James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, Daniele Gatti, Riccardo Chailly and Christian Thielemann.

His death brings the era of big agents to an end in the classical music world.

CAMI have issued a statement, saying ‘the normal operation of the company will continue under the leadership of our ongoing executive structure’.

I will comment further on Ronald’s death in the days ahead. Although he and I were long-time adversaries, our relationship was generally tinged with mutual respect.

WILFORD , Ronald  portrait Head of CAMI .

picture: Lebrecht Music&Arts

An uncertain future here.

 

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  • An icon of music management, we met on occasion. At one time, he was a very powerful representative for many conductors. He will surely be missed and remembered by the many whose careers he successfully oversaw.

  • I was in his Japanese screened office on the day of his 60th birthday. Michel Glotz was also there, having taken the morning Concorde from Paris to be at whatever celebration was planned for later in the day. Wilford showed us the large card signed by more than 100 of the conductors he managed.

  • Wilford had a 30-year+ stranglehold on the classical music industry, with virtually all the world’s major conductors under his management. His power was all but absolute, yet there’s so little interest in his death… Amazing! Ditto for Arthur Judson, who controlled the music business from 1925 to 1955 (when the FBI investigated him for his “monopolistic practices” – yet he’s all but forgotten now.

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