Conductor of two ensembles is felled by a stroke

Conductor of two ensembles is felled by a stroke


norman lebrecht

June 10, 2020

From Larry Johnson of Boston Classical Review:

Conductor Richard Pittman has suffered a severe stroke, leaving two of Boston’s most innovative ensembles artistically rudderless…

Longtime music director of the New England Philharmonic and Boston Musica Viva, the 85-year-old conductor was stricken in March. (His illness is wholly unrelated to Covid-19.) While Pittman continues to recover, his recuperation is both “challenging and slow,” according to NEP.  Sadly, it seems unlikely that the enterprising conductor will be able to return to the podium anytime soon, if at all….

Read on here.


  • Larry says:

    I knew him during my time at the New England Conservatory, where he conducted one of the two orchestras. (Gunther Schuller conducted the other.) A wonderful man. This is sad.

  • Joel Lazar says:

    I knew him slightly during my days in Boston and admired his recordings with Musica Viva. Sad to hear this news, a respected colleague who did fine work in a good cause.

  • David Crowe says:

    His advocacy of living and American composers is unparalleled. I had the privilege of being his graduate assistant at NEC in the 70’s. A very generous and supportive teacher, I owe him a great debt. Be well, Maestro.

  • Vance Koven says:

    I’ve known Dick Pittman for many years and this is a tragic development. As I understand it the NEP, if it offers a 20-21 season, will use guest conductors. BMV, which Dick founded in 1969 and is Boston’s longest-standing professional contemporary-music ensemble, has been pretty much a one-man show, so I don’t know whether and how they will continue.

  • fflambeau says:

    85 is old, more than most people’s full lives. No one can be expected to go on forever.

    Perhaps the institutions should know this?


    I’ll never forget him conducting an elegant little performance with Musica Viva, at the Yale Center for British Art. One of the quiet heroes of the business.

  • Chris Wilhjelm says:

    As a student at The New England Conservatory, I had the privilege to play for him. Mr. Pittman was generous and kind teacher and provided many opportunities for us. I wish him the very best for a speedy recovery.

  • Eric Culver says:

    Not to forget the Concord Orchestra, as well: they just performed “Bluebeard‘a Castle” last Fall.

  • Edmund M Feingold says:

    Just reading this now, I am so saddened to read this. I had the pleasure of working with and learning from Richard as the executive director of his beloved Boston Musical Viva many years ago. I’m sorry to hear that he will not be conducting anymore. I pray that he is able to find other ways to enjoy, appreciate, and explore music for the remainder of his days in meaningful ways. He has helped so many do that himself that he deserves at least that.

    Rest… restore your strength, Richard. I wish you well.