Ernest Fleischmann, Longtime Head of L.A. Philharmonic, Dead at 85

Manager revived Hollywood Bowl, transformed orchestra

Ernest Fleischmann, the longtime head of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, died on Sunday after a long illness. He was 85.

Fleischmann joined the philharmonic in 1969.

He revived the Hollywood Bowl and championed the creation of Walt Disney Hall, working with architect Frank Gehry.

Gehry told the Los Angeles Times Fleischmann “became one of my best friends.”

“The unique and blessed musical landscape we inhabit in 21st century Los Angeles was made possible by a cultural giant of the 20th — Ernest Fleischmann,” Deborah Borda, the philharmonic’s president, said in a statement. "To say that we stand upon his shoulders is a proven fact. He will be terribly missed."

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Loved and hated — sometimes by the same people — Fleischmann imposed his will by cajoling, shouting at, persuading, charming and intimidating those around him. Even those who questioned or chafed at Fleischmann’s stratagems generally conceded that they always were in the service of making the Philharmonic better.

Fleischmann is survived by his three children, Stephanie, Martin and Jessica. Memorial services will be private, but a public memorial concert is planned for the fall.