Seattle Symphony Orchestra hires Gerard Schwarz as principal conductor on June 27, 1984.

  • By Pete Blecha
  • Posted 7/10/2002
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3884
On June 27, 1984, after an international search, the Seattle Symphony announces the hiring of Gerard Schwarz (b. 1947) as Principal Conductor. The city continues mourning the recent death of Maestro Rainer Miedel (1937-1983).

Musical Background

When Gerard Schwarz was appointed as the 15th conductor in the Seattle Symphony Orchestra's 81-year history, he already had compiled a remarkable track record as a graduate of the esteemed Julliard School, and then almost two full decades of experience conducting and/or directing such organizations as the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, the Eliot Feld Dance Company, the New York Chamber Symphony, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

Arrival in Seattle

Schwarz was initially brought to Seattle in 1983 to serve as the symphony's Musical Advisor. Having favorably impressed many with his knowledge and skills -- and with the passing of the orchestra's ailing conductor, Miedel (who had served since 1976) -- Schwarz was offered the position of Principal Conductor in 1984.

For The Record

In its first eight decades of existence, the Seattle Symphony had managed to record only about four different albums -- with two of those even being very "limited edition" releases restricted to but a few hundred copies.

That paucity of aural documentation, and the symphony's associated reluctance to aggressively promote itself on this commercial front, all changed under Maestro Schwarz's reign. In the years since 1989, the symphony has recorded at least 80 different compact discs for various notable labels including Artek, Delos, EMI, Koch International, New World, Nonesuch, Reference Recordings, and RCA.

These albums have garnered nearly a dozen Grammy nominations and/or awards, and a flood of kudos from critics that have helped the Seattle Symphony Orchestra establish its solid international reputation for excellence, a fact acknowledged in 1994 when Maestro Schwarz was named Conductor of the Year by the Musical America International Directory of the Performing Arts.


Sources: Don Duncan, Meet Me At The Center: The Story of Seattle Center (Seattle: Seattle Center Foundation, 1992), 123-124; "Maestro of the Year," Seattle Weekly, December 15, 1993, p. 36; Author's discussion with Seattle Post-Intelligencer Chief Librarian, Lytton Smith, July 2002; Seattle Symphony Orchestra website, (www.seattlesymphony.org).

Related Topics:   Music & Musicians

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You