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Obituaries

Former PSO director brought global recognition

| Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011

Gideon Toeplitz, the former executive vice president and managing director of the Pittsburgh Symphony, died on Sunday in Israel. He was 67.

The artistic quality and international presence of the Pittsburgh Symphony rose dramatically during his tenure from 1987 to 2003. The orchestra performed 17 international tours under Mr. Toeplitz, performed regularly at Carnegie Hall in New York City and made 16 commercial recordings.

"The thing that struck me about Gideon was that he wanted the Pittsburgh Symphony to be absolutely competitive with the best orchestras in the world. He knew what it takes to be a player on the world stage," said Joseph Beiro, who worked closely with Mr. Toeplitz as orchestra manager from 1989 to 2000.

Among his most important accomplishments, Mr. Toeplitz hired Mariss Jansons to succeed Lorin Maazel as music director, hired Marvin Hamlisch to be principal Pops conductor, and oversaw the major renovation of Heinz Hall in the summer of 1995.

"Gideon was instrumental in bringing me to the Pittsburgh Symphony (as concertmaster)," said Andres Cardenes. "He and I shared the same vision of excellence. He was very dedicated to making the orchestra the best it can possibly be. ... He was a good friend. We spoke last week. He never sounded better."

Mr. Toeplitz was born in Israel, where his father, Uri, was principal flute of the Israel Philharmonic. He played flute, too, and held an MBA, but he said his six years' experience in management with the Boston Symphony Orchestra most prepared him for the heights to which his career took him. He was executive director of the Houston Symphony for six years before coming to Pittsburgh.

"We at the Pittsburgh Symphony are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Gideon Toeplitz," the symphony said in a statement. "We all still benefit from his vision and leadership during a critical period in the orchestra's history. Our thoughts go out to his family at this time."

He is survived by his former wife, Gail Ransom, and their two children, Shira and Ilana. Memorial arrangements will be announced at a later date.

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