A NY conductor is last to pass in 2017

A NY conductor is last to pass in 2017


norman lebrecht

January 01, 2018

We have been informed of the death on December 31 of Maurice Peress, one of Leonard Bernstein’s assistant conductors at the New York Philharmonic, later music director of the Kansas Philharmonic and an influential music professor. He was 87.

Peress had an international career, working at the Vienna State Opera in 1981, the Prague Sprng Festival in 1988 and subsequently touring energetically in China.

He began teaching at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College in 1984, founding a degree program in conducting and leading the Queens College Orchestra.

He is the author of Dvorak to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America’s Music and Its African American Roots (OUP, 2004).



  • Eric H says:

    How beautiful. We’ve lost a cultivated musician….

  • Biomusicologist says:

    No, no, no….it was not the “Kansas Philharmonic.” It’s was the Kansas City Philharmonic, in Kansas City Missouri that Maestro Peress led during the 70’s.

  • Larry says:

    Also music director of the Corpus Christi Symphony, past president of the Conductors Guild, “re-creator” of the famous Paul Whiteman 1925 Aeolian Hall concert (NY City) where “Rhapsody in Blue” was premiered.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    He also scored Duke Ellington works. If not for Maurice, I would not have recorded Ellington’s ‘New World A-Comin’ and thanks to Maurice, Sir Roland Hanna’s unprinted cadenza is in the recording. It was in 2003 when Maurice instructed that I write out the cadenza from his Musicmasters cd of the Ellington work which he recorded with Roland Hanna. Roland approved, thanks to Maurice. Maurice was also the Maestro of the Queens College orchestra in New York. He will be missed yet he left the world with a respected legacy.

  • Andrew Collins says:

    Peress led the Kansas *City* Philharmonic, which is located in Kansas City, Missouri.

  • Michael Beckerman says:

    Very sad. He was an amazing person of wide experience, great humor and enormous gifts. He was to have conducted a concert in honor of Bernstein at the Bohemian National Hall in March. Now we shall make the date a memorial to Maestro Peress! Through his books, his conducting and his general humanity he brought new perspectives, deep understanding and a unique kind of energy.

    • Isaac Chueke says:

      Perfectly right dear Michael, an hommage to Maurice fantastic idea, please do count on me, I would love to participate. Peress was and will remain one of my principal mentors, owing him so much in terms of my background as a conductor. Following my period with him at Queens College (Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting, 1996) we were always in touch becoming close friends and exchanging permanently, on his side he was always asking about my doings, also interested about the activities developed by my wife, a concert pianist, and our daughter, a young mezzo-soprano.

  • Marc-André Hamelin says:

    Very sad news…At Carnegie Hall, back in 1989, I was one of eight pianists involved in his re-creation of the 1927 George Antheil concert featuring the first version of ‘Ballet Mécanique’. I’ll always remember Maurice’s passionate dedication and boundless energy.

    • Jeffrey Biegel says:

      Yes, that was a remarkable event he coordinated. It must have been fabulous to work with him, and now the memory even more beautiful.