Reading the obit below, I was reminded of how many arts organizations
start out with a goal of serving the arts and end up having the goal of
February 21, 2007
Siegfried Landau, Conductor, Dies at 85
By DENNIS HEVESI
Siegfried Landau, the founding conductor of what is now called
the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, died on Monday night, along
with his wife, Irene Gabriel, in a fire at their home in Brushton,
in northern New York State. Mr. Landau was 85. His wife, a former
ballet dancer, was 70.
The deaths were confirmed by Adam Teeter, a spokesman for the
Brooklyn Philharmonic, which was known as the Brooklyn Philharmonia
during Mr. Landau's tenure, from 1955 to 1971. From 1961 to 1968,
Mr. Landau was also conductor of the White Plains Symphony.
From both podiums Mr. Landau regularly insisted on conducting
new or rarely performed works - sometimes to the consternation
of orchestra board members.
"He put together a corps of top-notch, professional freelance
players from New York," said Maurice Edwards, a former executive
director of the Brooklyn Philharmonia and the author of "How
Music Grew in Brooklyn" (Scarecrow Press, 2006). "He did at least
two or three new compositions each season, or revivals of neglected
Mr. Evans said Mr. Landau introduced audiences at the Brooklyn
Academy of Music to Ernest Bloch's "Symphony for Trombone and
Orchestra," William Schuman's "Symphony for Strings" and works
by Carl Nielsen, John Corigliano and Roy Harris. Mr. Landau also
conducted concert versions of operas, had modern dancers on
programs and started a series of free concerts for schoolchildren.
Born in Berlin on Sept. 4, 1921, Mr. Landau was the son of Ezekiel
and Helen Grynberg Landau; his father was an Orthodox rabbi. He
studied music at the Stern and Klindworth-Scharwenka Conservatories
in Germany, and in 1939, the family fled from Berlin to London,
where Mr. Landau continued his musical studies at the Guildhall
A year later, Mr. Landau came to New York, where he studied with
the conductor Pierre Monteux. By 1943, he had joined the faculty
of the New York College of Music, now Mannes College of the New
School. He was also a frequent guest conductor for the Carnegie
Pops and Hunter College concerts.
In 1954, Mr. Landau married Ms. Gabriel. They are survived by
two sons, Robert and Peter, and Mr. Landau's sister, Lotte Landau.
In 1971, he resigned from the Brooklyn Philharmonia when the
orchestra, then financially troubled, shortened its season,
limiting his innovative work. Ten years later, Mr. Landau resigned
from the White Plains Symphony Orchestra, which had previously
been known as the Music for Westchester Orchestra. At the time,
the orchestra's president, Philip Carret, said the board objected
to programs that included Sibelius's Symphony No. 4, Bartok's
"Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta" and Beethovens Fourth
Symphony. "Programs have to be such that we can raise money for
the orchestra," Mr. Carret said. The orchestra stopped performing
Mr. Landau's response was: "If I stayed with the same old warhorses
year after year, if I permitted the repertoire to stagnate and
become impoverished, I would no longer be serving the course of
music. What is of enormous importance is that we take a stand
against a tendency that is absolutely deadening to the future
of Western music."