Death of a major orchestra benefactor

Death of a major orchestra benefactor


norman lebrecht

September 16, 2020

The death has been announced of Ann Getty, wife of the oil billionaire and composer Gordon Getty. She was 79.

Based in San Francisco, she was a copious supporter of the San Francisco Symphony, the Conservatory of Music and the San Francisco Opera.

But she also spent much time in London, where she was George Weidenfeld’s publishing partner and was involved in several music causes.

San Francisco Opera writes: Pass through the stage door, and you see her name next to the entryway: Ann Getty. It’s hardly the only mark she’s left on this institution. When Ann, a philanthropist and designer, passed away yesterday, she left a legacy as one of the most passionate champions of the arts in San Francisco, someone for whom music and theater were a way of life.

As we process the news of her passing, we grieve the loss of someone whose generosity and spirit nurtured opera on this stage — and art across this city. Our condolences to her family and friends.



  • drummerman says:

    I remember her also as a board member of New York University. I taught in the School of Continuing Education from 1992-1999. RIP.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Yep, this is a pretty big loss for S.F. My condolences to the Getty family.

  • waltraud says:

    I met the Gettys a handful of times and worked with them A LITTLE in previous jobs. I can’t pretend to know them well but they were always extremely gracious people and the amount of money they personally, and their foundation, give in support of classical music is really quite something.

    I am actually quite sat that she passed away. The Getty family is endlessly fascinating.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      I’ve met Gordon Getty several times. I played in the pit orchestra for the world premiere of the first act of his opera “Plump Jack” at Santa Clara University. I won’t pretend it was a great piece of music, but Mr. Getty has gracious and thankful. He was a frequent customer at the Tower Records Classical Music Annex in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of S.F. I managed there for five years. Again, he was always very cordial. He didn’t ask for any help – he knew what he wanted. Yes, the Gettys were certainly major fixtures in the S.F. music scene.

  • fflambeau says:

    So she married super wealth and gave a sliver of it away (probably paying little in taxes). What’s to celebrate here?

    • Elizabeth Howard says:

      Ann Getty was a role model and inspiration to many people, myself included. Regardless of how she came to obtain her vast Financial Resources , it is how she chose to use them that matters most. She was truly a caring and generous person and I only wish more could be like her. And that is what we are celebrating!

    • mikhado says:

      Without her money the institutions which received her support would most likely not exist in the form they are now.