MASH actor had second life as symphony conductor

MASH actor had second life as symphony conductor


norman lebrecht

March 07, 2018

David Ogden Stiers, one of the medics in the long-running TV series M.A.S.H. television series, who died earlier this week, was for many years resident conductor of the Newport Symphony Orchestra in Oregon and the Ernest Bloch Music Festival.

Juilliard trained, he also guest conducted in  San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Chicago and Toronto.

Who knew?


  • joseph white says:

    uh, we all knew – and were disappointed that the major news outlets barely mentioned it

  • Joe Shelby says:

    Uh, I did. I’ve been following his career (such as I can, being on the east coast) for some time, after it came up in one of the “where are they now” documentaries, though that was before Beauty and the Beast started his long Disney association. He also narrated many of the behind the scenes documentaries for both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 (original DVDs and newer ones for the Blurays).

    He didn’t write the bit in Morale Victory at the end when Winchester presents the Ravel Left Hand Concerto to an injured soldier, but he certainly inspired it in the writers given his love for classical that was written into the character.

  • Tommy says:

    He conducted an (albeit amateur) orchestra in the final episode of MASH, the most watched programme in US television history.

  • drummerman says:

    I was a board member of the Conductors Guild for several years and Mr. Stiers was kind enough to make an annual donation. M*A*S*H is my number one, all-time favorite TV show. RIP: David.

  • V.Lind says:

    I thought everyone knew, and was rather surprised when he didn’t make SD earlier — he died on a light-obit day.

  • Doug says:

    Good man. When he was in town, back in the early 90’s during production of a feature film, he called the office of the orchestra where I was the newly minted manager. He offered his services to the orchestra gratis at the next concert while he was still in town. The MD of the orchestra had some difficulty swallowing the notion of an amateur stepping on the podium of his orchestra. In the end, Steirs conducted an encore in a piece the orchestra could play on auto-pilot. One thing I’ll not forget is Steirs coming to me just as he was about to walk on stage of the sold out house. He asked very simply and straightforward “what would you like me to say to the audience?” I told him and his speech to the auduence was witty, eloquent and quite moving. What a guy.

  • Anthea Kreston says:

    Us Oregonians have a special spot in our hearts for David – he was a big part of all of our lives – I think every single classical musician in the whole state knew him and had a wonderful story or two to tell. We miss you!

  • Heather says:

    David’s death was not reported on the news here either. I am so sad. We shared a birthday and a love of classical music.

  • K.D. Cooper says:

    I believe credit should be given to the late “M*A*S*H” actor Larry Linville for being gracious enough to leave the series when he felt he did all he could with his “MAJ Frank Burns” character, thus making the way for David Ogden Stiers’ “MAJ Charles Emerson Winchester III” character.

    He was frequently unlikable, like MAJ Burns, but the episodes where he privately showed humanity, ie., “Morale Victory,” in counseling the soldier who lost useage of fingers in his right hand due to shrapnel fragments that his musical career wasn’t truly over; in “Sons and Bowlers,” where he provided emotional comfort to “Hawkeye” dealing with his father’s surgery; and in the episode where he gave a stuttering soldier his leather bound edition of “Moby Dick,” telling him it was far more worthy of a man with an above average intellect than comic books, those moments were pure television gold.

    David Ogden Stiers was DEFINITELY worthy of a few Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Emmys for his work in “M*A*S*H;” he’ll be most definitely remembered and very greatly missed…the ultimate tribute!!

  • Gerald Martin says:

    Hated MASH; but that didn’t extend to gentlemen like Stiers and Linville.