Death of a conductor, 101, active to the end

Death of a conductor, 101, active to the end


norman lebrecht

June 27, 2018

Edward Simons, America’s oldest active conductor, has peacefully passed away.

Our sympathies to his daughter, Jo, and wider family.

Here’s how his orchestra were informed:

Dear Friends,
It is with great sadness that I must tell you that Ed Simons passed away today ( June 26 ). He was 101.  Jo Simons, Ed’s daughter informed me a short while ago. Last month I visited with Ed and we talked and laughed about his conducting one more time at Concert for Remembrance to break his own record. He asked to conduct Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 for strings and 2 flutes which he had conducted before at one of the early Concerts, I think 2003.
We will play the Brandenburg at the concert in honor and remembrance of Ed, with Holly Druckman conducting.
If you haven’t already contacted me , I would love to hear from those of you who would like to play with us on Sunday, September 16.
With love and a heavy heart, but also a humbling feeling of appreciation that I had the privilege and joy of knowing and playing with Ed for so many years.


  • Hedy Kunstmann says:

    Beautiful writing, Alison; you know better than most about loss. I’d love to be part of this tribute, but with only 2 flutes that could be problematic. I’m guessing Jacqui Drechsler might be one. I’d be fine if you (or your conductor) would choose someone other than myself, someone who’s been playing in the professional arena all this time (and someone with more courage than I have!) Tris Gates played flute with RSO for some time, also decades ago; she’s on FB, as am I.

    Would there be other selections on the program that could involve all the sections of the orchestra other than just strings?

    In memorial concerts it’s sometimes done that a composition is performed without a conductor. (Kinda like when a president dies a riderless horse, with stirrups turned backwards, is part of the parade.) Just a thought.

    BTW: At the last Concert for Remembrance I thought Holly was a terrific conductor!

  • Jay Shulman says:

    Ed played under Reiner in Pittsburgh, and under Max Goberman in the original production of West Side Story. He was a member of Local 802’s Senior Concert Orchestra.
    My father, Alan Shulman, and I, played quartets with him and his violist wife Janet, and I played under him in the Rockland Symphony.
    Ed conduced the 9/11 Concert for Remembrance in memory of Welles Remy Crowther, who perished in the Trade Tower, from its inception in 2002 until last year when he was 100 years of age.

    • Jo Simons says:

      Dad played under Max Goberman in a Ballet Theater tour in the mid 40’s and conducted the ballet on occasion too and when they returned to NY, Max opened Where’s Charley? on Broadway and turned the baton over to Dad after 2 weeks which started his Broadway conducting career. He never conducted West Side Story.

      • Jo Simons says:

        I meant he never played for West Side Story. He was offered a chance to conduct WSS in Isarael but he turned it down.

  • Romain Kang says:

    Here’s a lovely video produced by History (published on Facebook):

  • Jo Simons says:

    And my book about my incredible musical parents has the whole story, My Father Wakes Up Laughing.