Conductor Sergiu Comissiona Dies Hours Before Concert Appearance

Classic Arts News   Conductor Sergiu Comissiona Dies Hours Before Concert Appearance
Sergiu Comissiona, who led, among others, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, and the Vancouver Symphony, died on March 5, the Associated Press reports. He was 76 years old.

Comissiona died of a heart attack in an Oklahoma City hotel, only hours before a scheduled appearance with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.

The Romanian-born conductor is largely credited with elevating the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from an unknown regional ensemble to one with a solid national reputation. He expanded the orchestra's schedule to 52 weeks, persuaded (according to the Baltimore Sun) the patron Joseph Meyerhoff to build the $23 million concert hall that is the orchestra's permanent home, and took the ensemble on its first international tour in 1979.

John Gidwitz, former president of the BSO, said, "He elevated this orchestra to a level that had never been aspired to, and he created the platform from which to build a world-class orchestra."

Melissa Zaraya, who played violin with the BSO for three decades, said, "They were talking world-class when he was around. That had not happened before."

He was with the BSO for 15 years, from 1969 to 1984.

Comissiona was also the principal conductor of the Romanian State Opera, music director of the Haifa Symphony in Israel from 1960-66, music director of the G‹teborg Symphony in Sweden from 1966-77, and, from 1982, chief conductor of the Radio Philharmonic in Hilversum, Holland.

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