Conductors Guild activist has died at 98

Conductors Guild activist has died at 98


norman lebrecht

May 10, 2018

Jonathan Sternberg, one of the founders of the Conductors Guild in 1974, died in Philadelphia on May 8, at the age of 98.

A gregarious man who wore his great knowledge lightly, Jonathan conducted in Shanghai while in the US Army in 1946 and went on to perform and record with various ensembles in Vienna, working closely with the Haydn scholar H C Robbins Landon. Among his soloists were Yehudi Menuhin, Henryk Szeryng, Alfred Brendel, Annie Fischer, Maurice Gendron, Lisa Della Casa, Hilde Gueden and George London.

He was associated with the Halifax Symphony Orchestra (1957-1958), the Royal Flemish Opera (1963-1966), the Harkness Ballet of New York (1966-1968), and the Atlanta Opera Company (1968-1969). Later on, he taught at Rochester and Philadelphia.


  • Tristan Michael Willems says:

    We have lost not only a musical giant but one of the most endearing people to ever grace this planet. Jonathan’s intellect and his generosity to share it with everyone should be celebrated. I will miss him……

  • Joel Lazar says:

    Wonderful man. I cherished my few, late meetings with him.

  • David Katz says:

    What a generous man he was! When I first conceived of The American Prize national nonprofit competitions in the performing arts nearly ten years ago, Jonathan Sternberg was one of the very first to heed the call for judges, serving as adjudicator to the contests for a number of seasons well into his tenth decade, offering his advice, his expertise, and his time. Now, literally thousands of contestants later, the entire family of The American Prize mourns his loss, thanking him for his belief in the TAP ideal before practically anyone else did. He was a wonderful colleague.

  • David Margison says:

    The first time I every played in an orchestra was with “Mr Sternberg” at Temple Universities Academy Concert in 1976. Bartok Miraculous Mandarin and Hindemith Symphonic Metamorphosis. Many more concerts to follow with him. Good times. Great foundation for many more years of orchestral playing.
    RIP Jonathan.

  • Midwest Maestro says:

    A wonderful friend and mentor who always took time for young(er) conductors. Forever in my heart, Jonathan. RIP.