Death of an Anglo-American orchestra manager

Death of an Anglo-American orchestra manager


norman lebrecht

February 15, 2021

We’ve had sad news of the death of cancer of John Duffy, who had more orchestras than hot breakfasts.

Liverpool born, John was Personnel Manager of the London Symphony Orchestra in the 1970s. In 1986 he joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as Personnel Manager for Lorin Maazel. Five years later he upped to Artistic and Operations manager at the New World Symphony.

John was also Tour and Personnel Manager of the European Youth Orchestra (1981-1986), using his contacts to build a new professional orchestra in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. Other orchestras he worked for include the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra of Europe abd Asian Philharmonic Orchestra,

John started out as Principal Double Bass at the Halle under Sir John Barbirolli, before moving to London to play in the LSO.



  • Gerald Newson says:

    A wonderful character , an extraordinary personnel manager and, best of all ,a lifetime friend.
    You will be sadly missed but you leave a legacy of professionalism and deep affection from his colleagues all mixed with that Liverpudlian humour.

  • Ferruccio says:

    We had very pleasant music business with him in Japan. Brilliant man, and great company. Take care, John!

  • Kenneth Knussen says:

    With respect, JD, a personal friend, did not have cancer. Sadly his condition was Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, an incurable lung disease.

  • Nick2 says:

    This is very sad news. I was in touch with him at the end of last week when he told me was was not well, but I had no idea how unwell. I had the pleasure of meeting John on many occasions. With his shock of white hair you could spot him in a crowd. We enjoyed many a lunch in his later years after he had moved to Asia to work with IMG Artists whose consulting arm got the contract to set up and run both the Malaysian Philharmonic and the Petronas Concert Hall in Kuala Lumpur. Later we would meet quite regularly for lunch after he set up his own instrument company when he was based in Tokyo. RIP dear friend.

  • Rest in peace, John. And many thanks.

  • Sam Magill says:

    He was so good to me during my three years with the Pittsburgh Symphony. So kind and caring. R.I.P.