Death of a vital impresario

Death of a vital impresario


norman lebrecht

March 24, 2019

We are saddened to report the death of Victor Hochhauser, a central force in music for seven decades. Victor died yesterday in a London hospital, in the week of his 96th birthday.

Together with his wife Lilian, who survives him, Victor was the first to succeed in touring Soviet artists after the death death of Stalin. He introduced to the West the likes of Oistrakh, Rostropovich, Gilels, Richter, Rozhdestvensky and many more. Dmitri Shostakovich stayed at his house. Many of them remained close personal friends after the Soviets declared the Hochhausers personae non grata. The Bolshoi Ballet was for many years their hallmark import.

His second vital innovation was the institution of cheap popular weekend concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. For many people, this was their first experience of live classical music. For many young musicians, this was their first opportunity to earn a living.

Victor and Lilian were married for 70 years. Their four children have achieved outstanding success in different fields.

A devout and observant Jew, Victor stood apart from the rat-race of the music business, following his own rhythms and high principles. He earned the respect and affection of musicians as disparate as Rudolf Nureyev and Pierre Boulez and he was an inexhaustible fount of good stories.

We are all blessed by his initiatives.



  • Viola da Bracchio says:

    A truly titanic and almost legendary figure – it seemed that he was somehow immortal, and not limited by human frailty. Summarising his multiple achievements would be almost impossible. We are ever in his debt.

  • Eleanor Hope says:

    Victor was not only linked to great international artists, he was also responsible for bring ensembles such as the Bolshoi Ballet and the Red Army Choir to London. The last of the great impresarios (I think he was almost 96) – heartfelt condolences to Lilian and the family.

  • Alan Toms says:

    You are right! He was my introduction to live classical music when I moved to London to work in the late 1950’s. Sunday nights of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov or Grieg – I remember them well and with gratitude for the wider world it opened up for me.

    • Paul Brownsey says:

      I’m pretty sure his name was there as promoter of the first-ever London concert I attended: Sunday night at the Albert Hall with The Hebrides, Tchaikovsky 1 (Malcolm Binns, I think), Scheherazade, Ravel’s Bolero.

  • Gregor Tassie says:

    I admired him for what he had done so boldly many years ago, I spoke to him once, he was a really great man devoted to his cause of making music open to many. Sadly, there are few like him in today’s cut throat world.

  • Nick2 says:

    How very sad! Victor was truly a legend, I had the great pleasure of meeting him and Lillian on a number of occasions. My last meeting with Victor was over dinner in an excellent restaurant in Hong Kong many years ago. His tales, amongst others, of Svetlanov wanting to defect to Bulgaria and the KGB minders of the Red Army Choir wanting a refund on the return ticket of a member who had died on the tour ensured it was an hilarious evening. I told him he really ought to write his memoirs. Unfortunately I don’t believe he ever did.

    To Lillian and his children I offer my deepest sympathy.

  • David Edwards says:

    Victor was an extraordinary man – he and Lilian were strong business people, but they also understood artists incredibly well.They played a huge role not only in the musical life of our country but in assisting great performers from the USSR to appear here, often under very difficult circumstances. I was very fortunate to spend part of my gap-year (in the late ’70s) working in their Holland Park office: answering the ‘phone etc but also meeting Nureyev, Rostropovich and Galina, Richter (and the young Emanuel Ax) amongst others who passed through on a regular basis. It is hard to appreciate Victor and Lilian’s achievements from the post-Cold War years nowadays but we owe them a huge debt for what they achieved in bringing incredible performers to the West. We must salute them for their artistic vision, tenacity and entrepreneurial acumen and celebrate what they gave us in artistic experience. My deep condolences to Lilian and their family for the loss of a great, and sadly under-acknowledged, figure in British musical life.

  • Music Lover says:

    Really interesting. In America, it seems Sol Hurok did this kind of heavy lifting for artists from eastern Europe and Soviet Union. Or am I mistaken?

  • Saxon Broken says:

    You don’t mention it but Hochhauser was basically declared persona non grata when the soviet artists who were regularly performing in his shows ended up defecting to the west. Rostropovich was even allowed to stay rent-free in his flat in Holland Park.