Maurice Abravanel, music director and conductor of the Utah Symphony Orchestra for 32 years, died September 22, 1993 at Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City of natural causes.
He was born in Salonika, Greece January 6, 1903 of Portuguese parents and was brought up in Lausanne, Switzerland. He went to Berlin at the age of 19 and studied music theory with composer, Kurt Weill, who became a lifelong friend.In 1933, he went to Paris and became musical director of Balanchines' Ballet Russe and conducted at the Paris Grand Opera. After guest appearances in London, Rome and Geneva, he went to Australia for two years as director of the British National Opera Company. In 1936, he began a two-year stint as staff conductor of the Metropolitan Opera. He took over the reins of a fledgling Utah Symphony in 1947 and in the ensuing three decades, built it into a fully professional, 52-week "major" orchestra. Under his leadership, the orchestra produced over 125 recordings which are still marketed in the CD format in the U.S. and abroad and made four major international tours.
He was music director of the Musical Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, for 24 years; served as a member of the first music panel of the NEA; was appointed artist-in-residence-for-life at the Tanglewood Music Center and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1991 by President Bush.
He is survived by his wife, Carolyn Abravanel; and three stepdaughters, Mrs. Randy (Elizabeth) Grayston of Salt Lake City, Utah; Mrs. Dean (Suzette) Jensen of Corona Del Mar, California; and Mrs. Patrick (Dee Dee) Turpin of Kirkland, Washington. He is also survived by two stepsons from his marriage to Lucy Menasse Carasso Abravanel, who died in 1985: Pierre and Gayle Carasso of Santa Monica, California; and Roger Carasso of Northridge, California.
The public is invited to pay respects to Maestro Abravanel on Friday, September 24, between 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. in the foyer of Maurice Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City.
There will be a private graveside service for family members.
A memorial service will be held in Maurice Abravanel Hall Tuesday, September 28th, at 7:00 p.m. The service will include remarks and performances by the Utah Symphony Orchestra and Utah Symphony Chorus as requested by Abravanel himself.
At the family's request, in lieu of flowers, contributions to the Utah Symphony Orchestra or the Tanglewood Music Center in the name of Maurice Abravanel, will be gratefully accepted. Please mail contributions to the Maurice Abravanel Memorial Fund of the Utah Symphony, 123 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101-1496, or the Tanglewood Music Center, c/o Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston, Mass. 02115.
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